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The Salt of Life


The Salt of Life

Much to the chagrin of my daughter, I am very fond of asserting at regular intervals “I could make a cup of tea or even rustle up some khichadi when I was your age (that is, all of 14 years).” Which my daughter cannot. She cannot cook to save her life. I take it as a personal defeat.

We take pride in our cooking dexterity. My grandmother was a famed exponent of the art of cooking. 60 years ago she dabbled in experimenting with food. Our traditional dishes she could cook with her eyes closed, and what taste – heaven.

My mother makes fantastic food – though a bit less that her mother. At 60 she is learning to make a sizzler at home. Such is the enthusiasm that she went ahead and bought a sizzler plate, tongs, et al for this new venture.

Now me, well I am a much diluted version of my mom but by far a lot better than what I see around. Currently Nigella Lawson is my ruling diva. I have even auditioned for Master Chef and failed in first round – albeit with honourable mention.

And then we have my daughter who at the ripe old age of 14 cannot boil an egg.

So the downtrend in the culinary expertise is very evident, but in the current scenario I would be delighted if my offspring just learns to make tea. It is very galling to see her behave like such an undomesticated goddess.

Two lessons I learnt from diverse sources but preaching the same philosophy.

When I was about 20 my mom told me that even though I may have a string of servants at my beck and call, it is essential to know the nitty gritty of the kitchen to run the house smoothly. She also expounded that whatever I may do as a career option, I have to run a household – successfully no less. Regressive but oh so down to the earth. So I learnt and now I put my management skills to run the house and do it well.

The other pearl of wisdom was bestowed by my new boss when I reported for my first job. He said that even though I may be an officer, unless I know what each of my staff does (and better than them as I am professionally qualified), I will never earn their respect and control them.

So moral of both the stories – you cannot avoid getting your hands messy if you want to rule.

I took both advice to heart which has served me well.

Getting back to my daughter, I wonder what the reason is for her disinterest in housework?

Is it because caught up in a demanding job, looking after kids and other creative pursuits, I do not do much cooking myself?

I remember it was seeing my mother slogging away in the kitchen that prompted me to lend her a helping hand.

Or perhaps she is just not interested. But then the interest will have to develop. I have seen those people who are so clueless in the kitchen suffer so much in life. The maids take them for a ride and they are oh so dependent on outside food that it is pathetic.

We have a routine of talking about the day just before sleeping. She tells me all that had happened and any important stuff for the next day. We discuss anything – problems, interesting stuff or just jokes.

So it was here that the truth tumbled out. She was afraid that once she mastered the household chores business I will thrust the full responsibility of running the house on her. Kids! It was laughable to imagine her managing the house on her own but that was her fear.

So I allayed her fear that I will be very much holding the reins, thank you very much!! And that the cooking lessons were for her benefit not mine. We have agreed to start after her half yearly exams. Communication is the key to a successful relationship. This is more so in the case of children who have strange ideas and still are untouched by the regular world.

Once again my belief was reinforced that most of our problems can be sorted over a chat where both the parties involved get to air their views.

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Sia Mitra is a freelance writer and blogger with more than a decade of experience. She has written for most major publications like Femina, Prevention, Complete Well-being, Child, Mother & Baby, Parent & Child, Womens Era, etc.


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