While the baby was napping and the oldest was engrossed in his pirate figurine collection I embraced the opportunity to spend a little alone time with the middle child. It was late afternoon and dinner still needed to be made so instead of sending her off to find an activity I grabbed a chair and encouraged her to be my helper. Her face beamed as she scrambled up beside me at the kitchen counter. After helping me measure out the ingredients and pouring everything into the bowl she went to work diligently mixing some crumbly cheese dough.
With the first task complete and no sign of other kiddos needing me anytime soon I began to really enjoy the moment. For the first time I took the task of cooking with the kids as less of a "learning opportunity" and more of an afternoon with a young and hilarious little friend. Having only one child to worry about and no turn-taking to referee, I was able to let her pull everything we needed out of the fridge all by herself, line it all up on the counter just the way that she wanted and let her help decide what needed to be done next. She grabbed a rag and covered her eyes before we even started chopping the onion and when I asked what she was doing, she said"I'm getting ready, I don't want to sting my eyes". She had a delightful time plucking tiny "pieces of grass" from the broccoli and I didn't even mind when I noticed that she'd eaten about half of the cheese that I had shredded. I guess the coy grin when she was caught red-handed with cheese hanging out of her mouth was enough to warm my heart. The end result: a delicious mushroom-broccoli quiche, hash browned potatoes, and cinnamon rolls. Did she eat any of it, of course not. But the rare opportunity to have her all to myself for even a short afternoon was awesome.