When my daughter was in preschool, she liked to play restaurant. She'd scribble out a menu, and I'd order pretend food from her play kitchen.
I couldn't help but think back to that imaginary play last week when my daughter and her friend decided to team up and make dinner for their families together. This time, however, there was a pretty printed menu that was legible and dinner featured four courses of real food. It was delicious, even healthy.
The menu for their vegetarian meal included zucchini mini pizzas for appetizers, salad, pasta with vegetables and strawberry blondies for dessert. Proving that they are of a different generation, they said they got several of the recipes from Instagram. (I'm on Instagram, but don't consider a recipe source. Something to consider.)
If you you asked me ten or even five years ago if I thought this moment would happen, I would have been dubious. And I certainly would not have thought it likely to occur prior to entering high school. But happen it did, and I was thrilled.
One of the ways that I've been pleasantly surprised by the tween and teen years is that kids that their eating habits change, and for the better.
As a toddler, my girl wasn't overly picky but as time went on, she became more selective. I didn't want to make food a battle, so I let it go. And then it seemed like my child would exist on nothing except noddles and chicken nuggets. I feared that such preferences would last until she reached adulthood, or Heaven forbid, beyond.
Thank goodness that didn't happen.
Not only does my teen like more foods and flavors than she did a few years ago, but she can also prepare food for herself and for others. It's one of the many reasons I love having a teen that I didn't anticipate. Maybe this balances out some of the eye rolling.
When my daughter and her friend made dinner, they had a meal planning session, I took them to the farmers market to shop, we stopped by the grocery store to pick up a few things we couldn't get at the market, and they cooked. For hours.
The families gathered, ate, and enjoyed, expressing our gratitude for their tasty efforts.
When dinner was over, the adults sat outside on a beautiful summer night, talking and marveling at just how good a job they did and at how great it was that they were cleaning up the kitchen.
Yup, you read that last sentence correctly. And they did it on their own, no prompting or prodding. Did you hear the choirs of angels singing like I did?
I think the amount of time and effort required to return a kitchen to it's proper state after making a big meal is what surprised the girls the most. They're talking about next time but thinking that perhaps fewer courses will mean less time washing dishes, or maybe buying dessert instead of making it from scratch.
That's not the only lesson they learned. They also learned about planning, budgeting and preparing a meal. They gained confidence in their kitchen skills.
A dinner party for eight isn't easy. I love that they worked together as a team to make it happen, and that I made the guest list. I'm definitely looking forward to doing it again.
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