“Mom? I bought a chicken, will these spices be good on it?”
It was my eldest son, the most adventurous eater in the family, now the kid who buys and cooks his own chicken; the kid who’s moving into his first apartment.
He came home from his sophomore year at college with a signed lease and basic survival cooking skills: eggs, smoothies, or canned food. So basic that last year he tried to bake a pizza on a plastic cutting board.
A few summers back, this kid and I watched every single episode of “Criminal Minds” as our mother-son project; this year it was “Mom’s Grocery Shopping and Cooking School.” He now owns a cookbook and knows how to use it.
But cooking requires pans, bowls and utensils; eating that cooking requires plates and cutlery and he had none of either. I wanted him to have some things, but I didn’t expect him to start out with a fully loaded kitchen like he has at our house. Our kitchen took a couple of decades to stock; a couple of decades of heavy use by our family; a couple decades of…
In what may be my greatest, most-justifiably selfish move ever, I got hit upside the head with a frying pan full of inspiration:
What if I gave my old, still functional table settings and cookware to my son and I got the new ones? What better than to gift my son with the pans and plates that he has grown-up with? Has a lifetime of eating memories with? I know! I’m a true giver.
I’m also a very good shopper. Last year I made a clearance rack purchase and, with an assist of Store Cash, bought a down comforter with an original tag that said $300 for 40 bucks. I’ve been training for this.
I started kitchen shopping.
We have fancy dishes for holidays, he wasn’t getting those, but I was more than willing to part with the everyday dishes. Did I mention that I’m a very good shopper? It didn’t take long until I was packing up our old Corelle for the kid and filling its former cabinet space with new plates and bowls.
One day I saw him making a smoothie, the next day I packed up our old blender for him…in the box that the new one came in.
But the pans? When did shopping for pots and pans become so confusing?
I’ll admit I stumbled here. I hefted every pan in the big houseware and furniture mart and finally chose a set. Like the smart shopper I think I am, I looked online while I had it in my hand, and found a better deal. When the store wouldn’t match the price, I bought it through my phone. (I did walk away first, I’m not that much of a jerk.) I packed-up my old faithful pots and pans in the box the shiny new ones came in, threw in some spatulas, wooden spoons, mixing bowls, measuring spoons, a can opener and called it a done shopping adventure.
Right this moment, the kid is boxing up all of his possessions and stacking them in our foyer next to his new-to-him kitchen items. When he moves out in a few days this won’t be his primary residence anymore. He’ll visit, he’ll still have a room here, with a slight redecoration into a spare bedroom. He could, in all likelihood, boomerang back while he looks for his first career job, but this is Mom and Dad’s house now, not his.
And I have new pots, pans, plates and bowls; I have a new blender and a couple of new cooking utensils. But I don’t have my kid here every day.
With that realization, my eyes misted over and cooled the thrill of new.
Susan Vollenweider is a Kansas City based writer and podcaster. To listen to the women’s history podcasts that she co-hosts or to read more of her work, visit www.thehistorychicks.com or www.susanvollenweider.com.