It’s taco night and the kids are all helping to cook and prep. The toddler, kindergartner, and first-grader. While it’s tortillas, guacamole, and fillings on the menu, it’s a lesson in learning to trust my children that’s being served.
We’re making tortillas again thanks to the simple recipe in The Taco Tuesday Cookbook. Both of the older boys are clambering to be the one to roll out the dough and grill them on the smoking-hot skillet. The toddler won’t be denied either as he makes his way up the well-worn path of kids chair to tabletop to countertop. When I’m not looking, he’s got the rolling pin in his hand or poking his fingers into the rolled dough.
“This one is inflating so big it looks like a tent,” says one of the older boys attending to the skillet behind me. “Ready to flip,” I tell him as I remove the rolling pin from the toddler’s grasp and instruct the other son on how to roll out a tortilla so that it doesn’t look like an amoeba.
My head is spinning from worrying that one of them is about to get hurt, while marveling that we are making progress with 10 tortillas already done without any burns or bashed skulls.
I pivot to the child and skillet to give him a quick pointer on how to flip the tortilla. “Don’t try using the tongs like a pair of tweezers and pinch just the edge. It’s going to rip. Get a better, softer grip by easing the tongs under and towards the middle to give yourself more tortilla to grip.” He follows along wonderfully and even starts instructing the older son when he does the last few tortillas on proper flipping technique. They learn so fast.
My head is still spinning when we wrap up grilling our final tortilla out of a dozen and the boys are all smiles. Thinking about the old saying of giving someone a fish or teaching them to fish gives me pause to consider the immediate versus long-term risks you are committing to as well. Especially if they are young, they could fall in the water, hook themselves, or succumb to numerous other accidents we’d most likely avoid as adults. Yet, the long-term reward of knowing how to make food on their own, gaining confidence by doing hard work for the family, and coming together as a team makes it feel like the risk is worth it.
Now back to the 5 year old holding the smasher and toddler dropping avocado pits into guacamole.