My daughter is a Velcro kid. Well, she has been for the last couple of months anyway. She sticks to me all day long, and sometimes all night, too. I take one step, she takes two tiny ones to match, fists clenched tight around handfuls of my jeans, head wedged between my knees. Sudden movements are a no-no; I must move at baby pace lest she topple off her tiny feet.
Of course, cooking dinner is near impossible because invariably, I will need to walk between the bench, fridge and stove – and, to make matters worse, she’s hungry. I mean HUNGRY!
Every night is like a shift in Chef Ramsay’s kitchen; the pressure is on, there are dishes and utencils everywhere, spilled sauces and onion skins turn the floor into a slip ’n’ slide, pots sizzle impatiently on the stove, the customers (my dogs) are complaining coz they haven’t been fed, and there is an angry red-faced tyrant yelling at me to HURRY THE *&^$@ up! (It’s just as well my daughter doesn’t yet speak adult English, and doesn’t need ‘bleeping’.)
What choice do those kitchen staff have but to whisk harder, chop faster, and respond, ‘Yes, Chef!’ to the master’s demands? So, that is what I do every night with my hungry Velcro kid.
As I write this, I’m celebrating a personal victory; last night, I made a pretty yummy fried rice, which was ready by 6pm, without injury, tantrums, burnt ingredients or broken crockery. And, if you saw the size of my kitchen (fit for a Sylvanian Family), you’d probably give me a pat on the back, too!
I persevered with my infant leg irons on, managing to chop all the ingredients without moving more than two steps in any direction, but then, I had to move four feet to the stove for the hot part. One-armed cooking was required.
Resting my 8kg infant on my right hip, the left side of my body did all the cooking; drizzling oil, stirring the pans, seasoning, checking the rice, adding ingredients, cracking the eggs (yep, one-handed like a professional!), and (very precariously) flipping and then slicing the omelet. All the while, of course, I had to keep little hands away from the hotplates, while maintaining a fascinating and musical commentary along the lines of, ‘Oh lovely eggs, whisking lovely eggs, put them in the pan and cook, cook, cook!’
When the dogs began scratching and yelping at the back door, I knew it was definitely 6pm – and I was ready! Dinner was made and I felt like a winning MasterChef contestant. It was time to present my dish to the judges. I ‘plated up’, with matching pink bowl and spoon, accompanied by a sippy cup of fresh tap water. The ‘hero ingredient’? Love, of course!
My Velcro baby peered expectantly into her bowl, extracted a few choice pieces of uniformly diced vegetable, chewed suspiciously, then, deciding it was worth a second bite, demanded more. I was surely safe for another night! I loaded the pink spoon and aimed it for her open mouth… it was going to be a hit… she changed her mind and whacked the spoon out of my hand.
Now, I’ve seen a couple of episodes over the years, and I’m pretty sure Matt Preston has thrown meals onto the floor. Devastating, but if it happens to a MasterChef contestant, it happens to the best of us, right?
I needn’t have feared – all my toughest critic wanted was to eat her dinner off the table by the fistful, not by the slow and inefficient spoon method. Ah, the accolades were mine! All the more because there would be leftovers for tomorrow.
Alas, later that night, Velcro kid’s dad came home from work ‘extra hungry.’
At least he agreed to wash the dishes. Winners don’t wash dishes.