Welcome back to “Dad’s Man Cave,” an occasional series from dads we know and love, sharing parenting perspectives, humor and advice.
Today’s post is from Keith Anderson, who is the founding Partner, President/CEO of Trinity Applied Internet, a boutique web applications firm located in Sparks, Nevada since 2005. Keith is married to his wife, Erin, who also happens to be his business partner, and a proud dad of three kids. Keith is a member of the Reno Sunrise Rotary and helps every year to organize the Edible Pedal 100.
I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to share in this space. I don’t have a lot of traditional “man” family duties or even a traditional manly-type cave and so I didn’t really think I’d have a perspective that would fit here. Then, I realized that it didn’t really matter what my perspective was, it is mine, and the important thing is to share it and let others connect to the parts of it that calls to them.
I am the family cook. And my kitchen is my Man Cave. It is my refuge. It is where I go to wake up, get creative, entertain, experiment, and make meals for the ones I love. You will find me there when I’m helping with homework, making a difficult phone call, excited about the future, when I’m angry (washing dishes) and when I just want to talk. I tend to drift into the kitchen while doing other things all the time.
Virtual high five to all the guy cooks out there.
I like that the kitchen is grand central station for our family. I like its busyness. I am fiercely protective of my space and its tools, like my measuring cups and kitchen shears, which walk away in little hands all the time. I fight the constant battle against the tide of dirty dishes, open cabinets, and the amazing stream of random papers, toys, and hair ties that wash up on the shoals of the kitchen counter.
How did I end up as the family cook? As a child, my mom insisted on me learning to cook. I started learning to make simple things (like eggs) around eight years of age, and by the time I was in middle school I would make family meals once a month, by the time I was in high school, it was my chore to plan and cook two meals a week for our family of five. Mom never cared what was on the menu as long as there was a main dish and one or two vegetable side dishes. The result of this regimen was that by the time I was in college I was comfortable enough to experiment with recipes and could whip out a full meal in less than 30 minutes if I had to.
Cooking was probably the greatest gift my mom ever gave me, and one of the things I learned growing up that has served me the best in my life. Thanks mom.
One of the things that I’ve realized is that sometimes in the day to day hustle and bustle I forget to engage my kids in my passion, forget to make them slow down and create something with me. I feel it is more important to share your gifts with your kids than it is to get them to the other 3,000 activities that seem to fill up our schedule. Unfortunately, I have a hard time remembering that. Sometimes I get so crazy busy and I’m so focused on whipping up that ‘as-healthy-as-possible’ meal in 30 minutes that I forget to relax, invite them into what I’m doing, and allow them to help.
Cooking is a funny hobby/passion because it also a necessity/chore, which means you cannot escape it (unless your spouse is the cook or you are independently wealthy). While I love it, as with any task you have do all the time, I get burnt out on cooking. When I’m burnt out on cooking I get in a rut, and my family suffers, and they are not shy about the bemoaning of their suffering. Did I mention we have three very vocal children?
There is one thing that consistently gets me out of that rut: getting everyone involved. I solicit menu suggestions and ask the kids to help with the planning. My wife has a wonderful habit of constantly clipping recipes that sound good, and then the good natured patience to endure brand new recipes. Most of my experimenting turns out tasty, but every once in a while, I produce a ‘unique’ gastronomical experience politely labeled by our eight-year-old as ‘disgusting’.
To the moms out there: if you cook, share your gifts with your children and teach them to cook. Also, encourage your spouse to cook and get out of their way, let them run with it, and maybe, blow up your kitchen once in a while. Maybe he will discover a passion or just find his cooking niche. Whether your man is a short order cook, master of the grill, or Saturday morning professor of pancakes, he has something to contribute to the family and to teach your kids.