Tuesday, May 29, 2012

When Baking Becomes Homework


I have written many times about my love of cooking for my family when I am able.  It is very much cultural for me and one of the myriad of way in which I show my men that I love them.  Cooking and baking however, are too separate entities.  If the bananas are singing Swing Low Sweet Chariot, I will bake to avoid waste, but other than that the men usually have to find a way to trick me into it.

When you have school age children, one of things that you will have to negotiate is the bake sale. I don't mind going to bake sales and buying scrumptious treats, but I am not a fan of participating in them because it means I am expected to bake. Over the years to avoid this, I have gone to the bakery.  When the children would bring up the fact that all of the other mothers bake, I would simply say good for them and repackage my purchased items, to give them the appearance of being home made. Don't even roll your eyes, because I know that if you have kids, you have either done this, or thought about doing it.

The school has now created yet another category to force me into the kitchen with flour and measuring cups. They call it recipe translation, which is short for drag your mother into the kitchen and force her to bake us something to prove that she can read a recipe.  Destruction failed to tell me about his homework assignment until Sunday, because he knew that a request for baked goods would end with me giving him twenty bucks and sending him to the bakery to buy something.  Because the bakery is closed on Sunday, I had no choice and had to bake something.   I was set up by the school and my own son.


As a parent, I have grown accustomed to the science projects that are really assigned to us and not him.  When teachers assign a kid the task of building a bridge or a medieval castle, they know damn well that they are grading the parents.  Thankfully, the kids have always turned to their father for this and I have giggle and pointed and lectured him about bonding time. Because the task was to bake something or bring a meal to be shared with 17 people to class, Destruction came to me.  I started to whine instantly, which was met with, "but it's bonding time mom, that's what you always say to dad." Okay, using my own words against me is absolutely not cool. Supportive man that the unhusband is, he lost it laughing.

On one hand, I understand the importance of getting kids into the kitchen because of the fast food, pre-packaged culture that we currently live in. When it comes to food, many still exist with a huge disconnect and a lack of basic skills. Boys in many cases aren't even taught to cook, because it is not deemed an essential skill for them.  It is assumed that they will one day have a wife to take care of their subsistence needs. This assumption is both heterosexist and sexist.  Yes, I get the inspiration behind getting children into the kitchen, but it does not mean I have to like it, or that I don't feel put upon by it, if it means I have to bake something.

Obviously, sending an actual meal on the school bus to feed 17 kids plus a teacher, would have been too much for my child and so it leaves no other choice but to bake.  I got a full blown sulk going as he started mentioning different cakes, cookies and muffins. To be clear, I cook with Destruction several times a week, I simply do not bake. When he started talking about making a double batch to keep at home, I knew something had to be done.  He had every intention of keeping me trapped in the kitchen, covered in flour, surrounded by the much dreaded measuring cups all day and readers, I could not let that happen. I did what any woman who hates to bake would have done, on a day when the bakery is closed - I hit the internet and found a bread pudding recipe

Yes, I sent bread pudding to school and thought deal with that Mr. ______.  His teacher knew damn well that he was sentencing me to bake and used the veiled excuse of teaching kids how to read a recipe to do it.  Yeah, I think that was a thin, thin excuse.  Some other mother obviously thought so as well because one kid came to school with a cup of chilli. How much do you want to bet she opened a can and claimed it as her own? Since it was a cup of chilli, there obviously wouldn't be enough to share and maybe taste the prepacked nature of the suspect chilli.  Come on, who makes a cup of chilli?  Maybe, it was even a cup of left over from dinner that night. 

I thought that I was getting away with something, but now Mayhem expects a bread pudding simply because I didn't send one for his class.  I hope Mr. _____ is happy.  He has created yet more work for me to do.  I think that sending home homework for the unhusband to do is fine, but when it comes to dragging me into the kitchen to bake, I have to draw the line. There should be no forced baking and I had damn well better get a good mark for my stolen bread pudding recipe.

Okay readers, obviously my previous tact of depending on the bakery to solve this issue is no longer going to work.  Do you have any suggestions on how to dodge the dreaded flour and measuring cups? While you're at it, please feel free to vent about any ridiculous homework that your kid, or a child you know has been assigned.