As a single working mother, I always needed ideas on how to build our lives as a family unit. But, as working mothers know, life is all about deadlines. The children would let themselves into the house with their own key, complete their homework – or not. Watch pretty much what they pleased on television and eat the food kept for them. It was a nightmare.
I would come back tired and irritable to a house where things were scattered, homework was not done and dinner had to be cooked.
For a time I became Monster Mom. One day the boys cooked dinner, they were twelve and four at that time. Dinner was peanut butter and jam sandwiches, sweetly served on a dining table smeared with jam and peanut butter, with a smile. “Ma, we want you to sit with us and not get angry.”
I could have snapped, but the proud smiles and love stopped me. I am glad it did. That night I realized that what was going wrong with us was simple, we had stopped having fun together. So the games began.
Every evening we would cook together. Simple meals that even a four year old could participate in. It was great bonding, and I am reaping the benefit of those days even now. We still sit down and shell peas together or peel boiled potatoes, when our schedules match.
One favorite was chicken noodle soup. It has chicken and noodles, both things that the kids loved, and it’s a great participatory activity.
I would boil the chicken in the morning and go to work. In the evening the boys would shred it and de-bone it. Yes even the four year old, while I chopped the vegetables and boiled the noodles. Then I would make the soup while they would complete their home work.
An easy chicken noodle soup recipe
1 tbsp butter, half chopped onion, one Maggi Chicken cube, half Maggi vegetable cube, half kg chicken boiled and shredded, a small bunch coriander, some oregano for taste, one and a half cup egg noodles. Salt and pepper to taste.
In large pot melt butter, cook onion in butter, add chicken, carrot, oregano, salt and pepper. Let it simmer until home work is done (half an hour). One a hungry day, toast some bread to go with the soup.
Some profound and rib tickling observations are spouted in such situations that are really enjoyable.
Kid#1 : When I grow up I shall be the main cooker
Kid#2 : Then I will marry you.
Kid#1 : Boys don’t marry boys.
Kid#2 : In that case, I will starve to death. Girls in my class don’t cook. Ma, you won’t grow old and die will you?
Both Kid#1 and me : All you can think about is your tummy!
Ritu Lalit is the author of two novels, A Bowlful of Butterflies published by Rupa & Co., and Hilawi published by Popular Prakashan. She is a single parent and blogs at www.phoenixritu.com