Why Remote Supervision of a Novice Chef is a BAD Idea* **

bowl of popcorn

*Alternate title: 4 Assumptions that led to disaster in the kitchen.

**Alternate alternate title: You know what they say about assumptions, don’t you?

I was deeply engrossed in a project today. Deeply. Engrossed. You see, the plan I’m following for the boys’ schooling is somewhat complex, requiring me to coordinate literature with history. Well, that part’s simple, but getting the right books on time from the library to go along with the history book is harder. I don’t like flipping back and forth through the book trying to find all the suggestions.

After 5 years of homeschooling I came up with a brilliant plan: make a spreadsheet! Woohoo!! I got the younger boys’ topics and books all done the other night and was immensely pleased with myself. Why didn’t I think of this earlier?

Today I was working on the older boys’ assignments. Their plan is a bit more difficult because there are more book lists to coordinate, and not all of the suggestions are in chronological order.

Anyway. I was strongly focused on what I was doing. I’d already cleaned around the house this morning, so my spreadsheet project took me into lunchtime. And yes, I did stop to cook the boys some food. πŸ™‚

But they were still hungry.

TechnoBoy suggested popcorn. Sounded like a good plan to me; especially the part where I could continue typing while he made it in the microwave.

Ahem.

Partway through the cycle, an anxious boy asked me, “Is it supposed to be popping that loud?”. The Mercenary pointed out that TechnoBoy had put my splatter cover over the popcorn bag so I instructed him to quickly open the door, pull out the cover, close the door, and start the oven up again so it would keep popping.

I stayed at the computer.

I think it was another minute and thirty seconds later when the older boys started squawking that there was smoke coming out of the oven. I told them to open the door and stop the machine, then tried to get them to come back my way so we could analyze the situation. I’ve burned popcorn before…I figured that they’d lost a few kernels and I would finish my current entry into the beloved spreadsheet before I got up to help.

Yes, I was STILL at the computer.

That was when the smoke ROLLED into view. The boys responded by shrieking and running wildly around the dining room table waving their hands through the clouds. TechnoBoy dove into the kitchen and turned on the vent fan, while others focused on more shrieking and running.

Eventually I got them to all calm down so we could have a quick family meeting. It turns out that TechnoBoy used one of my snack-size bags at full power for three minutes (he just pressed the Popcorn button on the panel). He’d forgotten that we never trust the pre-programmed buttons on that oven, and he didn’t realize that the snack-size bag cooks in half the time at 80% of the power.

So. Object lesson for everyone today. We’re all about hands-on learning here at Earnest Parenting. Very Love and Logic, don’t you think? And for the record, my four (very bad) assumptions.

    I can work on this spreadsheet while a boy is in the kitchen.
    Said boy remembers how to pop popcorn in the microwave.
    The correct size popcorn bag is being used.
    An anxious question about loud popping doesn’t require immediate action.

PS Thankfully today is a very windy day and with all the windows open and the kitchen scrubbed down (including a very stinky microwave) I think the burnt smell will be gone by the time Hubby gets home from work.

I hope.

Earnest Parenting: help for parents who don’t want burned popcorn or traumatized chefs.

The editor-in-chief of Earnest Parenting, Amy is the mother of two sets of twin boys. Yes, they drive her crazy, but they also make her laugh occasionally. Amy enjoys writing, quilting, reading, and working on her burgeoning cyber empire.

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  • Doris M. August 26, 2008, 10:29 pm

    Great story! Too bad it really happened though! πŸ™‚ We all need to remember not to trust the assumptions. Hopefully the smell is gone…

    Reply
  • Amy August 27, 2008, 12:31 am

    Nope. Still very stinky here at Earnest Parenting. πŸ™‚ My microwave is awful! It’s improving, especially with lots of baking soda and airing out. The smell hangs throughout the house, even in the closets.

    Poor TechnoBoy feels just awful about it. I keep telling him it’s no big deal, just a mistake and lesson learned for everyone. I made a point of not mentioning it today. Hopefully it’ll be forgotten soon.

    Reply
  • Lori August 27, 2008, 11:00 am

    Love your posts Amy… and enjoy your commitment to homeschooling. We all know what an ominous task it is and it’s always a joy to see someone put their ALL into it…even if it means smoke in the house! We’ve had our fair share of near disasters as well. Thanks for the encouragement. Passing this link along to my homeschool friends.

    Reply
  • Pinoy November 24, 2008, 1:42 am

    It sounds like the perfect way to teach a lesson, he’ll never make that mistake again. But he shouldnt feel bad its amazing how easy it is to mess up microwave popcorn. Although the degree to which Techno boy messed it up is impressive.!!
    ps. I hope he doesnt read your blog, it might make it a little hard to forget.

    Reply
  • Amy December 5, 2008, 2:19 am

    LOL Pinoy. I think I learned as much of a lesson as TechnoBoy! And no he doesn’t read the blog unless I ask him to look at a particular post. I fully expect that to change in the future, and the boys may even ask me not to write about certain items. We’ll deal with that at the time. For now, if they do something funny they just smile when I say “you know I’m blogging that”.

    Reply