Mothers work in kitchens a good deal of the time even if they work outside the home as well. Long, long ago, before nintendo or play station, or remote control toys children also played in the kitchen while their mothers worked. This was especially true as my brothers and I were growing up. We played in the kitchen while mom cooked, baked, washed dishes and ironed clothes. The radio played, it was warm and cozy since there was always an old-fashioned cook stove or later, a Franklin fireplace to keep us warm. We emptied drawers, pulled chairs up to the sink to play in the dishwater, and generally got underfoot. It was very much where we belonged.
But my favorite play was “pretend store”. What better place to do it than the pantry cupboard? Ours was a double cupboard under the kitchen counter. Two large doors opened up to a joined space with a narrower shelf in the back, and it was not a large space. Looking at similar spaces now I can’t imagine being small enough to enjoy being in there – but I often have that reaction looking at the places I remember playing. Crazy, but I know we children did it.
The first step, of course, was to empty the cupboard of all the canned goods and utensils that might be stored there. The next step was to crawl in and set up shop. The things I wanted to sell would go back in, arranged as the storekeeper wanted them this time. Canned goods, cereal boxes, pots and pans, spoons, measuring cups – ready for business. This was always a general store so it also sold toys for children (no problem there), clothing for the family (knew where to get that) and ready to eat food which mom would supply. Paper and pencils for lists and a telephone (toy) for orders that might be phoned in would always be within reach. When all was done the final step would be to hang a kitchen towel as a curtain – just shut it in the overhead drawer.
It was such an inviting type of cubby hole that pillow and blanket would eventually find their way in for nap time. I could have lived there, except I do remember that the shelf was a bit of a problem and I often bumped my head. When I think about this pastime I have a renewed sense of appreciation for my mom’s patience. She was probably glad that I was occupying myself with anything that kept me happy.
My children played in the kitchen too, and if I was at home, I would upload a way too cute picture of Esther in a plastic dish pan, boating around the kitchen floor. I might add that for moms on a budget, don’t tell yourself that kids can’t be entertained with simple, inexpensive things. They were and they can. Try it. Just sayin’…