Yesterday, my oldest kid decided she wanted to take over dinner duties in order to create one of her favorite dishes: spaghetti and meatballs.

She’s eight. In her flower-print dress she set to work, chopping onions and cracking eggs into the ground beef, adding bread crumbs and spices, and rolling them up by hand. She got the water boiling for the pasta while she created her own gravy, standing over it with a wooden spoon as she continually stirred and adjusted ingredient levels.

I’m not biased when I say these were the best meatballs I’ve ever had. They were absolutely delicious. A big hit all around as her younger siblings devoured their portion and I ate about a dozen meatballs myself (her hands are small! so they were small meatballs! I swear!).

Something I admire greatly in my daughter (and want to continually encourage) is her ownership of her activities. She wants to do as much as is physically possible herself, because she wants to be able to legitimately claim the success. But she’ll also own the failure, if it happens. When she tackles a project, if it doesn’t turn out good, she doesn’t blame that on the 5% I did. She acknowledges it as hers and works harder.

This wasn’t one of those times, though. She absolutely nailed this.

We underestimate other people by at least 10%, on average. Children, at least 50%. Your kids are capable of amazing things. And since you’re all trapped in the house with them right now (for posterity: this was written during a global pandemic that required a ton of self-imposed quarantining and isolation to combat), make everyone’s lives better and give them tasks. There’s never been a better time to rely on them as full contributors.

And you might just get the best dinner of the year out of it.


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