Oh, I was excited for today’s activity, well, tonight’s activity actually. I thought, “THIS will be cool.” And I had all these beautiful visions of how exciting this would be. Making popcorn. REAL popcorn (as opposed to microwave, which is clearly fake). But, alas, never underestimate the power of a 2 year old who would rather do pretty much anything else.
Here’s how I WANTED it to go tonight:
Tonight Zach and I made popcorn. I figure it’s the perfect Friday evening activity. Popcorn and a movie, I feel the start of a new tradition coming on!
While I was busy cooking our risotto for dinner, I had Zach do this simple craft. We made a picture of popcorn out of cotton balls. Trust me when I tell you that if you have some glue, paper plates, cotton balls and construction paper at home, you can make ANYTHING.
After devouring a delicious and healthy meal, Zach and I got started on the evening snack.
First, I put some oil in the pan.
Then, knowing Zach’s affinity for “dumping” things, I let him scoop and dump the popcorn kernels into the same pan. I used a pan with a clear lid so he could peek in and watch the magic happen.
I set him a safe distance back from the heat of the stove, but left him close enough to lean over and watch the action. I turned on the stove and started the rhythmic shaking back and forth. Since the shaking was so fun, we sang this little song:
“Popcorn! Popcorn! Pop! Pop! Pop! Shake it! Shake it ’til it’s hot!!”
Then when the kernels started jumping, I held the pan at an angle he could see. You should have seen his face light up!! Talk about something more exciting that watching cupcakes bake in the oven (which is something we all know he likes to do!!).
After the corn was popped, I poured some into a little cup and let him enjoy his evening snack!
Magical. Right? Here’s what REALLY happened:
While I got the risotto started for dinner tonight, I showed Zach how to do a simple craft. First, I drew a picture of a popcorn kernel on a piece of white paper.
Don't be jealous of my mad drawing skillz
Then I cut it out and set it on a paper plate (more for a place mat than anything else). I squeezed some glue out on another plate and laid out some cotton balls.
The idea was SO simple. Take a cotton ball, dip it into the glue, and place it on the picture of the popcorn kernel. The idea was to make it look fluffy, like a real popcorn kernel. I did a few to show Zach how it’s done, then I let him go to town. Except, well. He didn’t.
Pushing the artwork back to me
I joked with him. I asked him. I BEGGED him to “Please buddy. Will you do this project with me? We’re making popcorn. Just dip the ball into the glue. That’s all.” Nope. Not gonna happen. I did finally convince him to stay in his chair and do the craft with me by basically allowing him to grab my hand and direct it where to go. So, I’d grab a cotton ball. He’d grab my wrist and push it toward the glue, we’d dip the cotton ball. Then I’d say, “OK. Where does it go?” and he’d grab my wrist and push it towards the popcorn kernel picture. I guess that works.
After we’d glued all of our cotton balls on, I glued the picture to a piece of construction paper. What a masterpiece!
I know. It's just lovely
Then, after we ate our risotto, I called him over to the stove to help me make our evening snack. REAL popcorn!
Lovely golden kernels
I poured some oil into a saucepan, just enough to cover the bottom. Then I let him dump the kernels in (as well all know, Zach likes to “dump” things).
Dumping in the kernels (the stove is off at this point)
And this is where it all went downhill. I moved him aside and let him sit on the counter. If only popcorn kernels popped instantly!! That might have saved me. I thought it might go well. I leaned the pot at an angle for him to see it, I showed him it was a clear lid. I told him that the magical kernels would transform into something else. He glanced in my direction, somewhat indifferently. Then. The CHOCOLATE on the counter caught his eye. Darn you chocolate!!! Hershey Kisses in a tin, still leftover from when we made cupcakes last week (and really, leftover from long before that).
“Choc-it Mommy. Want Choc-it.”
The popcorn was a goner. I let him have one piece.
“OK buddy. Let’s watch for the popcorn.”
We watch. Nothing. Crud.
“Hey. I know what we can do! Let’s sing a popcorn song while we wait. It goes like this:
Popcorn! Popcorn! Pop! Pop!….”
He interrupts me, “Want down. Down.”
“But Zach! The popcorn. It’s going to start popping soon! Don’t you want to watch it?”
“Want down. Down. Down. DOWN!!!!”
I gave in, no use having him yell anymore. I set him on the ground and he happily ran away to find trucks. Maybe if I’d have let him scoop the popcorn with a dump truck, this may have gone better.
And wouldn’t you know it, the INSTANT he was out of sight, the corn started popping. Figures.
Of course, he had no problems EATING the popcorn.
I will say though. He did make me incredibly proud today. As I was getting ready to cook dinner, I pulled a pack of stop light peppers out (you know the green, red and yellow peppers packaged together). I needed them for the dish. He said, pointing to the peppers, ‘Mommy. What is it?” I said, “Bell Peppers”. And he repeated, “Oh, peppers.” I asked him to show me the red pepper. And he did! And just in case it was a fluke, I asked him which was the green pepper, and he got that too! Then, going for the hat trick (that’s a hockey term, for those who don’t know…GO WINGS), I asked him which was the yellow pepper and he got that one right too! I know that probably seems like not such a big deal, but for MONTHS absolutely everything, when you ask him what color it is, has been yellow. This proves that he has been learning. I love that!!
What did Zach learn today? What bell peppers are. And he showed me he knows at least 3 colors.
What did Mommy learn? Sometimes you just gotta press on and do this stuff yourself. Maybe we’ll get a book from the library about popcorn and talk it up for a few days first, instead of a few hours. And maybe if we make it in the middle of a day instead of at night, he might pay more attention.
Side note? Popcorn kernels would be excellent in both a sensory tub and a paper plate tambourine!