When I was five years old, my dad decided it would be good for each of the kids in my family to take a turn once per week to make dinner.
Of course, my mom helped me at first, but I was in charge of planning my weekly meal, deciding which ingredients we needed from the store, and then putting the meal together with my mom.
I clearly remember sitting with my mom on her bed, flipping through recipe books and selecting my first meal--sweet & sour chicken.
And by the time I was eight, I was usually making the meal without much assistance.
It sounds crazy--a five-year-old planning meals?
An eight-year-old cooking dinner for a large family alone?
And do you know what that meant?
It meant that sometimes I forgot to drain the pasta before adding the sauce and our family ate nasty pasta soup for dinner.
It meant that sometimes I got way too eager with the ever-trusty Lawry's and the topping for the rice had enough salt in it to make a whole cow's worth of beef-jerky.
It meant that on more than one occasion my mom had to help me find appropriate substitutes because I had forgotten to write something we needed on the shopping list.
And it also meant that I learned to be independent from a very young age.
It meant that I learned to be confident in my abilities,
and to never feel like I am limited by my current situation in life.
Because whether we were making dinner or mowing lawns,
learning to read or learning to ride a bike,
our parents had high expectations and confidence in their children
and, like most children would, we actually stepped up when given the opportunity.
It's not always convenient,
and sometimes the whole family has to suffer as one person learns.
But I hope I can likewise sacrifice perfection for learning,
and thereby give my children wings to fly.