A few nights ago, my 3-year-old told me he prefers to be called JJ instead of Jason Jr.
He stumbled into the kitchen that same night with two grocery bags — one filled with grapes, bananas and apples and the other with glass-container items — and I thought I was going to lose it.
All I could picture was the bag filled with glass items slipping from his fingertips and onto the kitchen floor. Luckily, I grabbed both bags before he dropped them.
Later, JJ asked if he could help prepare dinner.
And while this might sound cute, cooking with an almost preschooler requires a lot of patience. JJ is the kind of helper who asks three questions too many and always has one hand somewhere it shouldn’t be.
“Why don’t you go…” I started saying. “Yes, JJ, you can help me cook dinner.”
The tired, over-worked woman who didn’t feel like cooking in the first place almost came out of me. But then I thought about the countless number of men I’d met who couldn’t even boil water. I figured that much like JJ, they were once little boys who asked to help cook and were told to go do something else, like play with toys or watch television.
And after meeting so many men who couldn’t cook or clean, I vowed that my little boys would not grow to be like those men.
“I just washed my hands, mommy,” JJ said. “What are we going to cook?”
“We’re going to fry fish.”
“What kind of fish, mommy?”
“Are you going to put the cheese I like on it?”
“It’s called tilapia,” I said. “And I’m not putting cheese on this fish, but you’re going to like it.”
“Can I rinse the fish?”
“Well, I don’t think you’re ready to rinse the fish, but you can help put the flour and seasoning on the fish.”
Even though it took every ounce of patience I had, JJ and I made fried tilapia and prepared sweet potato fries, green beans and homemade sweet tea.
JJ stayed around long enough to help me clean up.
“We should do this again, mommy,” JJ said as he left the kitchen and headed for the living room to watch TV.
Boys will be boys, but JJ will be one who also knows how to cook or at least boil water.
Tunette Powell is married with two children. You can read her every Tuesday on momaha.com
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