If this is your first time reading one of my blogs, I’m Kim Kizito. Wife, Mom, believer, and overall hot mess. I’m an IEP Strategist which means I help parents advocate for their special needs kids in the schools. I have 2 kids with special needs. The 7 year old has ADHD, the 14 year old is Autistic with ADHD and a smattering of other exciting things.
This is about the 14 year old. We knew even before we had her that with special needs kids, the goal should be to help them to become as independent as possible. Another blog for another day but when I met The Hubs, I was tutoring a kid who had no formal diagnosis. He had a speech impediment and had a hard time organizing his work. So I was his tutor and the one on one I did with that kid really helped. But I’ll never forget talking about him with The Hubs, who was then my boyfriend. I remember him saying “your goal with him should be to help him become as independent as possible”. It made sense.
Cut to today. T (my 14 year old) loves to bake. She has made a few things over the years. Last summer she did it a lot. And I thought, look kid…you love sugar, I get it. I do too. But you need to learn how to actually cook a few things so that when you’re on your own, you won’t starve. So I taught her how to make spaghetti. And rice (her favorite thing to eat that’s not loaded with sugar). Then I told her that she wasn’t going to bake anymore desserts unless she made a dinner on her own. Cut to this year. Have you ever seen those Tasty videos? They make cooking seem so easy. I’ve made a few things from there that have been easy. Some, not so much. They have an app and I made a really good (albeit loaded with sugar) chicken teriyaki using their methods. Because I’m slow, it didn’t occur to me to have T get the app until recently. So she made ribs (another favorite of hers) once.
I told her on Friday (today is Tuesday) that I wanted her to start cooking dinner once a week. She was all for it and said she’d cook on Saturday. Saturday morning she came down and said she was also making dessert (of course). But I told her I was not going to the grocery store so I hope we had all the ingredients for what she planned to cook and that she should look in the freezer to take out what she’d planned to make. Now here’s the thing with T. She will ask you a question and stand there until you answer it. If you ask HER a question, she may or may not answer it. Many times, she will just walk away. It’s not that she’s being rude. She has just moved on to whatever else is in her head. So after I told her to get something out to defrost, she walked away. I yelled after her “you should take it out this morning” and she said “I’m going to take a shower.” I said “You’ll forget!” (which means, I will also forget). and that’s exactly what happened.
At about 4pm she comes to me and says “I found ribs in the freezer”. I tell her it’s way too late for them to defrost and cook for dinner. So that meant take out for dinner on Saturday.
I was however, smart enough to tell her to take them out so she could cook them on Sunday. She found a recipe for Korean style baby back ribs. Then proceeded to read the ingredients…to ME. I swear the one thing I do not like about autism is this kiddo’s inability to read my hilarious facial expressions. She can definitely tell when I’m mad or happy. But I looked at her like “why are you telling ME“. When I realized that failed, I told her that she needed to print the recipe and go find the ingredients herself. Except for some reason, looking for things is hard for her. And her sister, and her father. I make a joke of this anytime I see one of them standing and staring waiting for their item of choice to float towards them. I say “ACCIO Ketchup” or whatever it is they’re waiting on. It’s from Harry Potter. The joke falls flat because NO ONE IN MY FAMILY HAS EVER SAT THROUGH AN ENTIRE HARRY POTTER MOVIE! Maybe T watched the first one with me years ago, but that’s it. What is wrong with these people? Anyway. She gets out most everything then tells me what we don’t have (rice vinegar and sesame seed oil). Except we DO have those things so I go to where I put all the sauces and find them (except the rice vinegar which I know we have to have because how often does one use rice vinegar?). I digress. I explain to her that in order to be a great cook, she should work backwards from when she wants us all sitting down for dinner. She should read the entire recipe so she knows how long things take. Her menu for the evening:
I explain that she forgot a vegetable and a starch. We discuss what’s in the cans in the pantry. My kids like Simply Seasoned Canned Glory Greens (which should be the subject of a whole other blog as a failure as a mom who lives in the south who can’t make greens from scratch that her kids like). It’s a cop out I tell you. One that I personally am allowed to use because, hey I know how to cook. She doesn’t. So we discuss a salad. We discuss rice. She reads the recipe. Yes the ribs are defrosted but the recipe calls for them to marinate for 4 hours. It’s 2:30. She’s autistic and likes to follow a recipe to the T. Pause to say “T likes to follow recipes to a T“. I crack myself up. Anyway, it then takes 2-3 hours to cook the ribs. So if she marinates them for 4 hours and starts cooking at 6:30, we won’t be eating until 10ish. We compromise at 2 hours and I tell her that she needs to come down at 4:30 to start. And that she should make a salad or something. At 5ish she gets started. I’m starved. Like HANGRY starved. But I’m trying to be supportive (plus there are Trader Joe’s cheese puffs in pantry and I can have a handful of those to stave me over).
She preheats the oven and puts in the ribs. I tell her that while she’s doing that, she could be getting the other stuff ready. “What other stuff?” We look at the recipe for the cinnamon rolls and in 2 seconds I see the word yeast knowing that these rolls will take even longer to make (plus cinnamon rolls are not dessert in my opinion but…this is HER dinner). So I remind her we need a vegetable. And don’t forget the rice. She is consumed with cooking the marinade per the recipe and watching it boil. I get her to make the rice except she decides to go upstairs to call my sister (which happens every single day at 6:45). You can’t leave rice cooking on the stove. But I decide to take it off for her because by the time she came downstairs to check on it, it would be burned.
So…dinner was EXTREMELY-SPICY-MAKE-YOU-COUGH ribs (I think her measuring of the cayenne pepper for the sauce was slightly off) and rice. Looking at the recipe I linked I realize she left out the bourbon (we don’t have any) and a couple other things that would’ve cut the spice. No vegetable. No dessert.
I’m proud of her. These are hilarious times. But things I refer to as small wins. Where she will make mistakes (the recipe didn’t call for the ribs to be covered which I thought they should since the last part called for broiling them for 5 minutes to brown. She didn’t cover them and they cooked faster than the recipe said…they almost burned…they were very dark…but edible). She knows how to read a recipe, was able to turn on the gas stove on her own, etc. We’ll see what she makes this week!