There is rarely a time when I am cooking that Charlotte does not ask to help. When she is not helping, she is making her own meal in her play kitchen, incorporating bits and pieces of our cooking experiences into her play. When Tim came to visit, she got the chance to make pancakes with him. Since my hands were not messy and my mind not distracted with following a recipe, I decided to observe more purposefully. I had been playing with Winnie and set her down to take pictures. Without a peep of disapproval, she fell right asleep (seriously, I love this baby). I imagine kids love cooking so much because it is such a sensory experience, one where a set of ingredients turns into an unexpected surprise that you can eat! “Can I yick (lick) it when you are done?” Over and over Charlotte asked this question, and over and over she had to delay gratification as a set of directions had to be followed and completed before licking the spoon. To distract herself from not being able to lick the spoon yet, she pretended to be a monster and put her head over the bowl pretending to eat and saying, “I’m going to eat all of it, nom nom nom.” Timmy was counting with her, reading to her, and talking to her as they cooked together, filling the experience up with real life applications and rich vocabulary without turning it into an assessment. All along the way, Charlotte would say, “I can do it on my own.” As Tim trusted Charlotte with different tasks, not only was she gaining confidence in her ability to cook, but she was also owning the process from start to finish. I always find that Chuck is much more interested in eating the things that she has helped prepare. As they poured the pancakes into the skillet, the pancakes turned into mommy ones and daddy ones and baby ones. When Chuck noticed that Tim had flipped all of the pancakes in the skillet except one, she asked, “Why are you waiting to flip that one?” Tim gave her an answer that satisfied her curiosity, and she added new understanding of cause and effect to her cooking schema. They set the table, and we all got to enjoy the result of their kitchen play.