Chart Number 181

August 21, 2015

By Ekta R. Garg

These kids continue to make me raise my eyebrows. In this instance I’ve noticed how Nine has really grown up.

Last weekend my husband decided he wanted to make dinner, a rare event because of his work schedule. He also didn’t have the opportunity to help in the kitchen growing up, so even though I keep telling him that cooking is nowhere near as hard as what he does in the hospital every day he still approaches working in the kitchen with a little bit of wariness. Something inspired him last Saturday, though, but he had one condition. I had to hover and offer help and advice when he asked for it.

The kids decided to pitch in; the three of them picked a recipe, we bought the ingredients, and after a couple of hours father and daughters began cooking. Even with his minimal experience, my husband did a good job of delegating tasks to the girls. I piped up occasionally, but for the most part I got to sit with my tea cup in hand and watch the action unfold.

At one point the chefs decided they needed to rinse some vegetables, and without even asking Nine turned to the cabinet where I keep two colanders. I don’t often get to do this—just sit and watch, that is—and it struck me as she reached up on the second shelf with ease how tall she’d gotten lately. We often tease Nine good-naturedly about her “mile-long legs,” and our gentle jibes usually make her smile.

I could see she’s learned to put her height to good use.

A little while later one skillet sat on the warm stove, and veggies still needed chopping. My husband had the knife in his hand, but the tomatillo salsa had started to heat up. I called to Nine and told her to pick up the spatula and get to it. Both her father and I watched carefully as Nine moved the spatula through the broken tomatillos, and I got a weird sense of the future. I could picture her doing this more frequently in the years ahead.

Granted, in the last several months I’ve encouraged the girls to take on more tasks in the kitchen. They’ve both been responsible for setting the table for more than a year now, but I take their increasing interest in cooking as a way to teach them how to look for opportunities to help. Before they can look for those opportunities, though, they need to know what to look for. Hence the invitations into the kitchen.

I’ve noticed Nine maturing in other ways as well. She’s learned to offer little humorous digs at her father when he jokes around with her. She’s also learned to look for chances to get the best of me.

The other day she and Seven had spread out paper on the coffee table along with a panel of watercolors. As their grandfather watched TV, the girls sat and chatted about Nine’s first day of school and painted. I stood at the kitchen sink washing dishes. Several minutes after they began painting, Nine trotted into the kitchen.

“Mamma, it hurts,” she said, stretching her hand in my direction. I saw two thin red streaks dragging across her palm and started fumbling with my dish gloves while asking what happened.

She laughed. “It’s paint. [Seven] accidentally got it on my hand.”

I growled in mock anger at her, and she kept laughing as she trotted back to the family room to keep painting.

She really had me. The red paint looked dark enough and the shape of the streaks looked thin enough to resemble blood on a quick glance. I shook my head as I went back to the dishes. Where did this smart, funny girl come from?

I don’t know. But as she gets a little older every day, she continues to surprise me. And make me raise my eyebrows.

(In a good way. Let’s just hope it stays that way. For a few years, at least.)