Friday, November 07, 2008

If you give a kid a dornfeel…

Tonight, I decided to make cornbread. Because it has corn in it, which is a vegetable, and hey, whaddya know: One baked chicken + one pan of cornbread = Balanced Nutrition.

Go, mommy!

ANYWAY. I got out the new sack of cornbread and fluttered around the kitchen turning on the oven and looking for my 8” square pan.

Captain Adventure wandered through, looking for something to break annoy mommy with do, and discovered the bag of cornmeal on the counter.

“Oh,” he commented. “What dat?”

“That’s cornmeal,” I told him.

“Oh. Dornfeel.”


“Oh! DORNfeel!” Duh, mom, that’s what I just said

And then he stood there looking at me, eyebrows raised, waiting for me to explain the dornfeel.

“For cornbread. I’m going to make cornbread for dinner. You want some cornbread? With butter and honey?” Oh yeah, I am ALL about the nutrition…

“Oh…” He’s not too sure, actually, and about to move on.

And then I created a monster had some kind of mental lapse, possibly due to exhaustion and/or household cleanser fumes an idea.

“Hey. Captain Adventure? Do you want to help make the cornbread?”

Is the Pope Catholic? Is the sun bright? Do monsters live in my closet? PLEASE! Of course I want to help make the cornbread – I DO IT!!!!!

I DO IT is apparently the Phrase of the Month around here. It applies to everything from things he can do himself (picking his own clothes, selecting his own Capri Sun from the fridge, getting a book from his shelf) to things he just so utterly can’t or shouldn’t (cutting apples with a paring knife, putting discs into the computer, driving the minivan).

It is non-negotiable (at least in his mind) and becoming extremely frequently yelled. He is suddenly developing a keen interest in controlling the world around him – I don’t blame him at all, and I have to say it really sucks how often we have to say, “Sorry, but no”

He actually did very, very well. It started with one cup of cornmeal, which I dipped out and handed to him in a metal measuring cup to put into the bowl.

“Oh! What do next?” he asked.

“OK, well, we need one cup of regular flour,” I said, taking the cup back and dipping up a cup of all-purpose.

“I DO IT!” he bellowed…you know, in case I had forgotten in the last eight seconds. Carefully, he upended the cup into the bowl and stared at the two flours. “What next?”

“OK, well, we need some sugar…” Uh-oh. Hmm. Three tablespoon is a little advanced here and if he gets direct access to the sugar bin…wait, I’ve got it. “So! Hold up your cup! Ready? We have to count to three, here we go…one, two…Captain Adventure? Are you counting?” I dipped the tablespoon into the sugar and measured them out into his cup.

“Waaaaaaan…dooooooooooo…TEE! TEE!”

“Perfect! OK, in the bowl!”

“In da bowl! I DO IT! I DO IT!”

Four teaspoons baking powder and half a teaspoon salt followed. What next?!

“Now, we stir,” I told him, and handed him a spoon.

“I DO IT!” he yelled. Habit can be such a…constant…master…while he stirred, I frantically whipped together the egg, milk and vegetable oil behind his back. What next? Why look! It’s magic! Mommy has wet stuff! (And didn’t have to deal with I DO IT and raw eggs, which she’d like to save for when you’ve got just a wee touch better fine motor skills.)

The wet went into the dry and was mixed under the constant bellowing of the new battle cry: I DO IT! I DO IT! I DO IT!!

The batter went into the pan. I DO IT!

The batter was scraped from the sides of the bowl. I DO IT!

The pan was proudly borne to the oven. I DO IT!

The oven door was opened. No, you do NOT do it…Mommy do it…

The pan was put into the oven, and the oven light turned on so that the chef could keep an eye on his creation. MOMMY? I DO IT!

He got bored pretty fast and wandered away to torture play with his sisters. He got into watching Animusic, ignored the dinner bell (yes, I actually do bang on a triangle when a meal is ready – hey, it gets old, yelling up the stairs “DIIIIIIIIIIINNER!” The triangle cuts through the noise no matter how bad it might be, and furthermore the kids have always just known, through some kind of prairie-pioneer genetic hive-mind thing, that it means soup’s on!), had to be called four times (oh well, so much for not needing to bellow up the stairs) and eventually be carried bodily down kicking and screaming the whole way.

“Oh. Dat dornfeel!” he announced cheerfully. “Mommy? I do dat dornfeel. Mommy?! I DO DAT DORNFEEL!”

“Cornbread, sweetie. You made cornbread with cornmeal.”

“Yeah. Dat right. I made it.”

“You sure did. Good job, buddy.”

“Did you make cornbread?” Daddy asked. “High five!”

Captain Adventure’s high fives could probably knock over a mule. He was grinning from ear to ear, infinitely pleased with his own cleverness.

“OK! I made it!” A brief pause, and then he looked at me with that same expectant expression. “What next?”

“Well, we’re done now, sweetie. Dinner’s ready!”

“Howwwwwwww ‘bout…hey! HEY! I wanna make-it cake! Yeash! OK! Mommy? WHAT’S NEXT?!”


If you give a kid a dornfeel…he’s gonna wanna make-it a cake…


ccr in MA said...

Well, I'm sure cooking with him was ... a challenge, but how great he must have felt when it was done! Good for you.

Did he eat any of it?

(formerly) no-blog-rachel said...


It would have been easier to toss it together yourself but you are an awfully good (and patient, at least on the outside) mommy. And story teller. :)

21stCenturyMom said...

Next thing you know he'll be standing in the kitchen yelling "I am Bobby Flay!"

Galad said...

My kids still remember being allowed to "help" bake Christmas cookies and "cook" dinner. As I worked with them, I always named the measurements (3 tsp is 1 TBSP), never thinking they were listening. When my daughter moved out on her own, she called me one day to say, "I never realized you actually were teaching me to cook. I can follow a recipe and none of my friends can!" Building confidence and teaching independence all starts with dornfeel :-)

She Knits Socks said...

I love your stories of Captain Adventure.

Anonymous said...

Yummy, dornfeel! What a cute story. Of course, for a real hillbilly meal you need a big pot of pinto beans with that dornfeel. Double yum!

Anonymous said...

tears...streaming...down...face... You are SO good!

Threeundertwo said...

I just love him. You are a great mom. What a wonderful, well-written story.

Anonymous said...

Awright!! Good for him, that he wants to do all those great, learning activities, like cooking. Great for you, that you thought quickly after your, er, mental lapse, and made it possible for him to do the job with the minimum of mess and stress. We're teaching our ASD son to drive using go-carts... I don't know if he'll ever graduate to real driving, but, hey, it's fun and a whole lot less expensive than teaching him using the family car!

Hollis said...

Excellent! Send him up here and i'll teach him how to make it Southern-style - with buttermilk and no sugar.

Yarnhog said...

Too funny!

I love dornfeel.

Science PhD Mom said...

Awesome!! And now he knows he can master big grown up skills too, with a little guidance. What a self-esteem booster you are! Good job!