Thursday, October 17, 2013

Teach Your Kids Stuff. A Cautionary Tale

Story time. I think I was about 7 or 8 the first time I decided to use the microwave on my own. My mom was at work, putting in a 12hour shift in the ICU and my dad was still asleep.

In my memory, it seems incredibly early in the morning because it was still very, very dark outside, but likely it was around 7 am. Alaskan winters make for late sunrise. Snow was piled up around our house and the sky outside was clear with cold and stars. A day for hot chocolate. I told my brother, then about 5, and my sister, age 3, that I would make them hot chocolate.

I was their hero! I scooped the Swiss Miss into mugs with confidence and stirred the water until they were sufficiently frothy at the top with chocolate powder. Easy. Anyone can make hot chocolate, I told myself. But then I came to the tricky part. I would have to use the microwave and I hadn't the slightest idea about how it worked.

I was concerned that I might blow up the hot chocolate and set the house on fire. So concerned that I made my brother and sister put on their coats, boots, mittens, and hats and stand by the front door in case we had to make a quick exit. I donned my winter gear and nervously started mashing buttons on this most mysterious kitchen appliance. I hit START and booked it for the door.

A few things occur to me now. Firstly, why in the world did I think it would be preferable to risk a fire than to go ask my dad for help? Secondly, what about my dad? Was I just going to leave him to roast? Did I figure that he could fend for himself in the event that blew up the house? I have no idea.

Clearly, the whole thing was a bit anti-climactic...the microwave beeped cheerfully and we took off our snow clothes and settled at the kitchen table for hot chocolate. I don't even remember the rest of that morning, I just remember feeling so grown up. And relieved.

Teach your kids stuff. So they can use a microwave (if you still own one! with its dangerous radiating ways! or whatever it does) without having the fire department on speed dial. Lest you think my mother was negligent in the life-skills department, I can state with almost 100% certainty that my mother did, in fact, try to instill certain small skills when I was young, but I was possibly one of the least motivated children on the planet. So if you have kid who, even after repeated tutorials, still seems incapable of basic household duties, don't despair. I turned out juuuust fine!

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