K is for Kitchen [The A-Z of Step-Parenting]

The kitchen can be the hub of a home. It can provide a place of quiet when needed or the mainstay of mayhem depending on what activity is occurring.

In our house the kitchen has transformed as the boys have aged. It used to be a place where they would help me prepare vegetables on a Sunday morning. It is now an area where I am guaranteed quiet time on a Sunday morning.

Rising at a reasonable time I find myself having breakfast alone usually with my choice of radio station on. I can spend many an hour happily chopping carrots or peeling potatoes.

This is always ruined by either a yell down the stairs or, if they’re feeling particular lazy, a text message sent requesting breakfast in bed. Funnily enough I’m now happy to fulfil those requests with a cheery smile.

As teenagers grow up they fall into the trap of believing that they are the only people in the world and that everyone should fall to their demands. I’m sure if you have teenagers in your home you will be nodding in recognition.

The kitchen can provide the prime example of this phenomenon. Dishes being left, crumbs waiting to be swept, hurried lunches lay on the side and a variety of jars left open. I could get angry. I could spend many hours whinging about how much money is wasted. I could find the regular movement of utensils annoying yet I actually find it all quite enjoyable.

Picture the scene: we’ve had friends over, I have worked my way through the remaining dishes and Iā€™m looking forward to sitting down for a nightcap. The youngest bumbles down the stairs with a mountain of unwashed dishes from his pit.

The dishes have been there for a week and are complete with crusted edges (local councils should use Weetabix to fill in potholes ā€“ nothing shifts that stuff).

There are two options here: ask him to spend the next hour chipping away at the varying cultures that now inhabit the mugs whilst I have that nightcap, or do it myself with the radio on.

In a previous life I would have asked him to do the dirty work. Yet now there is only one choice ā€“ do them myself, properly, in contented bliss. A small amount of time with only the noise I choose to be in my earshot is not to be wasted.

My wife believes that serving your children is one of the greatest things you can do. Me? I’m not so sure. I am sure, though, that if I’m in control of the kitchen I’m in control of the radio!

This is part eleven of the “A-Z of Step-Parenting” series by Paul Nevitt, a 33-year-old male with plenty of experience of living with stepchildren. Visit his adoption blog too.