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Modern Parenthood

Kitchen knives: Teaching culinary conduct to three kids

Etiquette is usually a tough sell to kids, but to Mom's surprise, one daughter possesses a natural skill.

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I tried to impress them with the seriousness of the situation. “It won’t be so funny when The Big One comes and Daddy and I are squished under the entertainment center and you kids have to fend for yourselves. What will you do then? Huh? I’ll tell you what you’ll do. You’ll starve! I can see the story on the ten o’clock news now: ‘Local children starve to death in a kitchen surrounded by cans of food!’”

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 blogs about parenting and other hazardous endeavors and recently finished a collection of essays about the ups and downs of parenting in the Sandwich Generation (parents who have young kids at home and elderly parents to fret over). She lives in Los Angeles with her husband and three daughters, a surly cat and a timid, emotionally delicate mutt named Buddy and works variety shows such as the Comedy Central Roasts, The SAG Awards, and the Oscars.

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Now gasping for air, Chloe somehow managed to squeak out, “We won’t starve. We’ll just order a pizza.”

I ignored her. “This weekend, the two of you are going to learn about the kitchen, and we will have a special class in advanced knife work.”

Morning came and, after a half-hour of Show and Tell with the kitchen utensils and appliances, I presented my children with a stack of easy-to-cut French Toast.

I gave them a lengthy dissertation on proper knife holding and exact index finger placement for maximum pressure and then encouraged them to try it themselves. 

Chloe tried to flaunt her knife skills first, but soon food went flying off the edge of her plate. Samantha made a couple of feeble attempts and then disregarded my advice and began mashing up her French Toast like she had her pancakes. Again, more giggles.

I was ready to admit defeat when my seven-year old asked, “Mommy, am I doing it right?”

To be honest, I forgot my overlooked third child was even at the table. But now, I was thrilled to learn someone had actually been paying attention.

 “Why, yes!” I gushed. “You are doing it right! Wow, girls... look at your much younger sister. See how well she wields her knife? Why can’t you two be more like her? Excellent job, Peyton. Here, have some more syrup and powdered sugar.”

I knew very well I had violated the advice of every parenting book by comparing the children to one another, but I didn’t care, I was feeling desperate.

But my efforts were apparently in vain. Chloe and Samantha soon abandoned their utensils entirely and resorted to ripping off bites of French toast with their teeth, much like the feral children they were apparently meant to be.

The good news was that at least my youngest child would someday be able to enter civilized society.  In the meantime, I can only hope that video game designers can invent a game that teaches kids how to use a butter knife.

The Christian Science Monitor has assembled a diverse group of the best family and parenting bloggers out there. Our contributing and guest bloggers are not employed or directed by the Monitor, and the views expressed are the bloggers' own, as is responsibility for the content of their blogs.


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