Mother of a Man-Child

My life with teenage boys

Mother of a Man-Child: Masterchefs in the Making? March 11, 2011

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As promised (or threatened depending on your point of view) I have been endeavouring to teach the men-children the art of cooking.  Not your high-end Masterchef type of cooking, but some simple dishes that will equip them with basic skills to survive in the kitchen, and that might even mean on a busy night we could call on the boys to help with preparing dinner.

A month back they had basically one meal in their repertoire – bacon and eggs.  No surprise when you’re a teenage boy.  Oh and two-minute noodles, if you count that as a “cooked meal”!  They’re adept at making a hearty (or heart-stopping?) meal of fried eggs and bacon coupled with toast and lashings of that great Australian tradition – tomato sauce.  Sadly they’re also adept at leaving the splattered remains all over the stove and the dirty frypan on the bench for Mother of a Man-Child to clean up.

So we began our own “Masterchef challenge”.  Each week I have been trying to teach them a new meal to make.  So week one was Mexican – pretty easy these days with the availability of kits, at least it has some salad greens in it, but go easy on the packet seasoning boys!

Week two was a curry.  Again made easy with great curry pastes these days, and pick virtually any meat and vegetable combo and you’ve got yourself a hearty meal.  And week three was a tuna pasta – again, nothing fancy, but a good carb-based meal for budding sports stars that can be put together readily with standard pantry items.

I’ve decided to tackle it one man-child at a time, one meal at a time.  It’s too hard to have both of them trying to make a meal with me in the kitchen – as they say “too many cooks…..”.

And the results:  so far we’ve had no food poisoning, and the meals have tasted just like the ones I make – since I’ve been standing over them, I guess that’s no surprise is it?  And the boys have actually embraced the idea – I think they realise it’s not a bad skill to have, and of course mentioning that it might also impress a girl goes a long way too.

Now the challenge is to make them realise that cleaning up after you cook is actually part of the job, especially Man-Child II, who seems to spill as much onto the stove as into the pot when he cooks!!!  Thankfully the need to earn pocket-money generally means we can convince them to also do the cleaning up, albeit reluctantly.

As we go along, we will no doubt move to more sophisticated meals.  But before you think I’m aspiring to grandiose things, I mean sophisticated for a 15-year-old, not a 30-year-old.  By the way, the men-children just turned FIFTEEN.  I for one cannot believe that I am the mother of two 15-year-old boys.  I had lunch recently with an ex colleague who asked about the boys, and when I told him how old they were, he kept repeating “fifteen, fifteen” with such incredulity I knew exactly how he felt!!

So Happy Birthday to my Men-Children, and happy cooking too!  Of course, recipe suggestions from my blog readers are welcome at any time.  🙂



Mother of a Man-Child: Pocket Money – Blackmail works! February 18, 2011

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You would recall a few weeks back we decided to try a new approach to pocket-money with the men-children.  Rather than giving them money automatically each week, we moved to a user pays model, whereby they have to ASK for money for a set event, and in return do set jobs to actually EARN the money.  Well readers I am delighted to tell you it worked!!!!

Both of the men-children wanted money the other weekend, so tasks were set.  Apart from insisting their bedrooms were tidied, and various dirty dishes were collected from numerous points about the house, both were given jobs.  Naturally their individual responses and approaches to the tasks were chalk and cheese, just like them.

Man-Child I was asked to hang out a load of washing after cleaning up his bedroom.  He accepted the request without fuss, completed it promptly, finished his room, got his money and left.  Job done, no fuss.

Man-Child II on the other hand complained from the minute the requests started.  I decided since I had the upper hand in the situation that no stone would be left unturned.  Every inch of his room was finally cleaned, and his doona cover was finally put on his doona after three weeks of pleading.   Every wayward glass and plate finally found it’s way to the dishwasher.  And the newly purchased school shorts were not left on the floor in a crumpled heap but folded and put in the cupboard.  Such was the effort to get him to complete the most basic jobs he avoided any extra tasks – I honestly couldn’t bear it any longer.  But he finally got paid, and I finally got a clean bedroom.

Interestingly Man-Child I later asked exactly what his brother had done to earn his money beyond tidying his room, and I muttered something about quite a lot (it’s all relative isn’t it?).

The point is, when they want/need money to fund their weekend entertainment, you’ve got them right where you want them.  I am looking forward to clean bedrooms and a little extra help around the house in the future.  It’s amazing how nice it is when you don’t have to hang out every load of washing yourself.

I got so excited about their new-found abilities, that we’ve also decided it’s time for the men-children to learn to cook, and to prepare a meal for the family once a week.  Helping them gain a life skill, and helping Mother of a Man-Child and Father of a Man-Child have one less night at the stove after a day in the office.  I’m sure there’ll be plenty of tales about their culinary skills (or lack thereof) to follow!