This independence started a couple of weeks ago when Jack woke up early on a Sunday morning. He tried to coax me out of bed but it was not going to happen. I did tell him to go down to the kitchen and have some breakfast and watch cartoons, but what I really meant was ’pour a bowl of cereal’ and wait for us to wake up doing something safe and quiet.
Mr. Stone nudged me awake about a half hour later. “Do you smell something?” I sat up in bed and definitely inhaled a big whiff of French Toast. Was it coming from our home? Indeed it was.
NOT COOL!! We ran down to the kitchen to find Jack, standing on a stool, at the stove, flipping French Toast in hot oil. OMG!!!!!!!!! He was wearing an apron. He was cleaning up after himself. He did make it correctly. But he’s FIVE.
FIVE!!!!! Using the stove unattended with hot oil at five is NOT OKAY! I made him get down and sit on the naughty step for a five minute time out while we discussed the dangers of all of the above. I was mad and worried for his safety. He was furious that we’d try and damper his independence! Then he burst into tears. I tried to explain that we’re only interested in keeping him safe. He cried and cried. He finally agreed to never do it again.
But just as the tears ended and he finished up his time-out, he said to me between tearful sniffles.
One question. Can we still eat the French Toast?
We all started laughing. Even when Jack does something out of bounds, and we have to make a big deal out of it to teach him a lesson, we end on a high. We laughed at his ability to turn the mood around. And do you know what? It was pretty darned good French Toast!!
However, I have started closing his bedroom baby gate again at night. He still hasn’t mastered how to open it. I don’t want him wandering around early morning on his own. I know he thinks he’s a big boy. And in many respects he is. I worry about safety though, and this new defiant streak has reared it’s head a few different ways. Sometimes as parents we need to protect our children from the invincible bubble they believe they live in. I struggle with this. I want him to be aware of dangers and recognize that they are real…but I also want to preserve his innocence and let him embrace his childhood with passion for everything he enjoys.
I feel guilty for squashing his love for cooking a little bit, but I’m going to stand firm on this for safety’s sake. He can cook with me, he can cook with Mr. Stone. It’s not okay to cook alone!