Cooking Lessons With Mr. Literal

I have no culinary skills whatsoever, but I want my boys to be able to make more than just toast, so I’ve been getting them to help out a bit in the kitchen. This hasn’t been too difficult with Brayden, whose main goal in life is figuring out how things work (he theorized that the clumps of cornstarch disappeared into the water because the starch absorbed the water and thus became heavy and sank – I have no idea if he’s right).

Justin, however, hates taking on new tasks he’s not sure he can master. My first mistake was asking if he wanted to help me make brunch. (I really should have known better.) He politely refused, whereupon I politely informed him he would have to help if he wanted to eat said brunch. Even once I got him in the kitchen, he kept trying to sneak away – I had to promise he could have juice instead of the usual water to get him to stay put. Sigh.

I pride myself on my ability to give clear instructions. One of the tenets of my technical writing program was that you must write so that you cannot possibly be misunderstood. The ultimate test, however, is trying to give instructions to someone who does exactly what you said to do.

We were making hash browns. I got Justin to pre-heat the oven, get the cookie sheet, count out the hash brown patties, and put the patties on the cookie sheet. So far so good. Then I said, “Put them in the oven.”

Granted, I used the wrong pronoun. I should have said, “Put it in the oven,” since I was really talking about the cookie sheet. But his literal Asperger mind took me at my word, and the next thing I knew he was taking the individual hash brown patties off the cookie sheet so he could put them in the oven. Oops.

The devil is in the details…