I just finished a week of teaching a summer camp class called “Cooking Around The World.”
I got home two hours ago. I have already sobbed, taken a soak in the hot tub, washed a load of soaked/greasy/filthy/chocolate covered laundry, washed, dried and put away a load of dishes, eaten a plate of Chinese take out and had two glasses of wine.
My feet are up, the ice pack is on my lower back. It’s 7:45 and I’m struggling to stay awake.
Well. That was fun!
I had two groups of children, a morning class and an afternoon class. Each had 10 kids in it. They ranged in age from 5-12.
The day went something like this:
Arrive at 8:45, find 4 kids and 2 parents waiting in the classroom for the 9 AM class. Chat, smile, pull out apples, potatoes, onions, place on tables. Greet kids, get them seated, take attendance, get ready to explain the day’s recipes.
Smile through: “What are we making? Can I go first? What country is it going to be? Is there bacon? Why don’t we use more cheese? Do you like my stuffed dinosaur? Can we go out to play? When will this be over? I have to pee! Can I chop?”
Hold up hand, use old teacher tricks “If you can hear my voice, clap once.”
Explain the first course. Give out knives. VERY carefully. Explain the plan to fabulous, patient, kind high school volunteers and get them to supervise the potato chopping.
Run madly around the room for the next two hours chopping, mixing, helping kids to pour, mince, shred, slice, sautee and bake. Do the frying myself while looking over one shoulder to give instructions on making bread dough. Intersperse casual conversation with 4th grade future chef to yell, “Get off the chairs! No ice cubes in the oven, please!”
Smile through: “Why does it smell funny? Can I lick the spoon? My mother makes this better. When are we going outside? Can I eat the garlic? I have to pee. When can we eat?”
Finish the frying, wash another giant load of dishes and sweep the floor while the volunteers watch the kids outside. Get everyone seated, serve the food, smile, pat heads.
Start the clean up. Wash more dishes. Dry. Run across the room to put them in the dish pile.
Serve dessert. Make yummy noises. Smile. Send the kids outside again.
Wash dishes, tables, chairs, counters. Get out supplies for the afternoon class.
Call the class back in, smile, thank them. Explain why they can’t take home latkes for all their friends and relations.
Spend my lunch half hour desperately scrubbing, cleaning, putting out bowls, apples, potatoes, onions, knives.
Greet the kids. Repeat the entire process.
Do this for one full week.
Finally get to Friday afternoon and send the kids outside to play ten minutes early so I can clean the ovens, stoves, counters. Drag over the giant overstuffed trash cans that haven’t been emptied for a week and smell like Crap Around The World. Drop one on the top of my left foot. Hop around in circles, sniff back tears, debate about whether or not there’s enough time to put ice on it. Decide to wait on the ice and keep scrubbing. Wrap up last remaining onions, apple dumplings, pizza, chocobananas from the week. Clean out the fridge.
Call everyone in, thank them, greet the parents, limp up to the front door to say goodbye.
Kneel down to receive the world’s most heartfelt hug from the beautiful 5 year old who kisses my cheek and says with complete sincerity:
“I think you should come to our house. I can make you some fry bread.”
Wow. What a week!