Kitchen Nightmares

I’m often surprised at my 7-year old daughter’s favorite TV shows. She still likes the cartoons, but has supplemented those with teen shows on Nickelodeon (yikes!) and The Dukes of Hazzard on CMT (What the?). Lately it’s cooking shows like Cake Wars, Cupcake Wars, and most especially, Kids Baking Championship on the Food Network.

chocolate-mini-cupcakes-749498_1280 (1)

I think she likes the whimsical designs of Cake Wars (towering Dr. Seuss cakes!), and who doesn’t like cake’s diminutive cousins? With the Kids Baking Championship, I think she loves seeing kids not much older than she is owning the kitchen and whipping up amazing creations. Innocent and obvious reasons, but the neurotic mom in me wonders if it’s because I’m a bad mother. Let me explain.

I’m no baker; I’m not even a competent cook. The domestic arts have never been on the top of my list, and as a result I can’t sew a button or bake a pie to save my life. There’s never been much of a grand cooking tradition in my family. Oh, my mother cooked. And cooked and cooked. It was more utilitarian in nature than artful. She had a big family to feed, and not much money to do it with it. She still hates cooking. And I’ll never eat cubed steak again in my life.

The point is, I’m wondering if my pathetic cooking life is detrimental to my child. My fears are admittedly irrational: Will she grow up unable to feed herself? Will she be malnourished? I try to console myself by remembering how picky an eater she is. If it’s not a grilled cheese sandwich, chicken nuggets, pizza or Kraft mac & cheese, she won’t eat it. I exaggerate, but only a little. I try to supplement with lots of fruit, yogurt and multivitamins. My husband is a pretty decent cook (the poor guy has to be if he wants to eat), and makes up for my deficits.

I guess I just feel guilty by not being “that” kind of mom, mostly because I exchange cooking time for writing time. Her childhood memories will not be of us in the kitchen with flour on our faces, our hands deep in dough, the scrumptious smell of cookies or cake or pie filling the house.

What I can offer her are other memories: of reading books together, swimming at the lake in summer, whispering secrets under the sheets. There’s enough mommy guilt in the world; I don’t need to add to it. And there’s always Food Network.

To be fair to myself, we do make goodies with her Easy Bake Oven sometimes (a gift from her aunt Cindy, who’s a great cook). This is what it looks like:

Isn’t it pretty? And Lilly’s favorite color.

Predictably, I screwed up the first batch. But we persevered, and went on to baking success! There’s hope for me yet.


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