September 17, 2013 at 1:00 am

Let's Talk Food (memories): Babies in the kitchen

You weren't going to be needing this pan or these bowls anytime soon, were you, Mommy? I had some ideas about reorganizing them. (Maureen Tisdale / The Detroit News)

Last week, my son turned 15 months old and pitched his first fit for being discernibly bored in the kitchen. I realized then the sweet moments of him contentedly playing at my feet are slipping toward memories rather than future joys.

It was a cliche moment: How did that happen so fast?

As I shared in the introduction to Lets Talk Food, one of my goals is to occasionally swap stories with readers about kitchen memories. My son has been in that golden age when hes still discovering the world and hasnt yet learned the word no; in other words, he has been busier than I have ever been in the kitchen.

So today, Im going to share what its been like having the baby in the kitchen and hope those of you with similar experiences will do the same, whether about your own child or others youve known.

Top priorities

Our adventures start early with my son unloading the dishwasher, handing me each piece of silverware before trying to climb atop the dishwasher door so he can get to the second shelf. Of course, unloading the dishwasher includes some play acting as well. He must use authentic utensils to scoop imaginary food into his tiny mouth (swish, eat, repeat), before he wears the once-clean dishes as a hat.

Keep in mind, Im trying to put away the dishes (and save his life) while he does this.

Then hes on to the pots and pans, which are terrific fun for banging together, as well as for lifting as high above his head to drop before he fills them with whatever he can find. Inevitably, I have to remove toys, pacifiers and various other items from pots before I can cook.

More high-ranking kitchen fun

■Emptying the drawer of kitchen dishcloths. (These days, we can only safely use dishcloths that come directly from the dryer.)

■Deconstructing and reconstructing serving bowls before trying to return them to the cupboard and rearranging items on the fridge door shelves whenever I dare open them. (Maybe hes a professional organizer in the making?)

■Pushing around small step stool before turning it over and using it as transportation for Blue Bear. (Or maybe hell work in construction.)

■Shaking the babygate like Godzilla. (A career in acting?)

■Emptying out the recycling bin and turning garbage into treasures. (An antiques dealer, perhaps?)

■My favorite (if hardest to stay productive during): when he just wants to be a part of the action. At his behest, I pick him up and he watches as ingredients are measured, he moves ice cubes to the sink from the bowl where Ive shocked boiled eggs for easy peeling, or tosses apple cores into the baked apples. (Ah, hes a sous chef.)

Frustration and joy

Sometimes my sons antics give me great pleasure, sometimes (I can admit it), theyre frustrating.

A few months ago, one of our little games was dumping. I would lean him, lean him, lean him over while he clung to my arm giggling, then dump him from that arm to the other, which he found hilarious.

One day, while I was measuring a tablespoon of Worstershire for meatloaf and apparently not paying enough attention to him though he was in my arms at the time he decided it was time to play the dumping game. He leaned from his position perched on my hip from one arm to the other, causing Worstershire to splash everywhere.

Im sure I let out an ARGH! But what I will always remember is his look of anticipation, which said, Isnt dumping fun, Mommy? followed by a bit of longing: In between everything youre trying to get done, did you see me down here being adorable to get some attention out of you?

What my son didnt say with that expression though I wish he would have was, I wont always be this size, Mommy. Not too long from now youll wish I still fit on your hip. A couple months from now, Im going to tromp through the kitchen checking out the dishwasher, the dishcloth drawer, the pots and pans, serving bowls and baking sheets, find them all wanting, and Im going to pitch a tantrum.

So for today, Mommy, will you stop worshiping your work and play with me for a few minutes?

Many times Ive put him off so I can stay on task. But Im grateful for the times Ive dropped everything, if only for a short while, to say yes to his unspoken request.

Yes, honestly, Im also grateful he often has been self-entertained so I could cook fairly easily and enjoy him too. Im hard-pressed to find a time in my life when cooking has been more special than when it can be broken up with a smiling glance at a little tousle-haired boy at my feet, jabbering at the pots and pans.

Do you have baby-in-the-kitchen memories? Wed love to hear about it in the comments below. You need a Facebook account to add comments, but theyre free and easy to sign up for, which is how I managed to have one for years and ignore it except for this sort of thing. Ill be keeping an eye out the next few days to respond to any great comments or questions you post. You can also follow me on Twitter @reentiz. Join the discussion!

I can't imagine my son has any idea why we're checking out this oatmeal, ... (Brandy Baker / The Detroit News)