My son when he came to us in 2007, was conspicuous for using his nose to learn about the world. Whatever new thing he saw, he first smelled it. I guess – it is a guess only – that the olfactory sense developed better because it was one he tried using even when in a crib in the orphanage.
Normally, when you have a baby or a toddler at home, they move around. They creep and crawl and discover the world with hands, eyes, also mouth – and of course their nose, too.
In the orphanage, young children spend way too much time just in their high, safe cribs which unfortunately give no way to work on their senses.
The result are sensory problems (and you need occupational therapy/sensory integration therapy later…) and even persistent primitive reflexes which lead to major issues (issues with fine and gross motor skills, reading difficulties, balance problems and many other). Our son is doing his NR therapy to reduce these problems.
My guess is that while my son’s other senses did not have much “to do”, he could still smell around, so this sense was more important. In course of years at home, the sight gained importance, but he still enjoys smelling things and he’s a fan of my perfumes shelf :-).
The whole topic of neuronal reorganization deserves a post on its own, but for the time being let me get back to the real topic: Cooking. The first chore that makes fun.
One fine day my son expressed his interest in cooking. I like cooking but I do it from time to time only, mostly on weekends, as on weekdays we all eat at work or school. On weekends I have time to cook so my son started helping me. We started with simple tasks like washing potatoes or mixing something but then progressed to actually cutting, first on a board, now also “in hands only”. I pay attention that he learns from start the right way of handling a knife (e.g. how to hold whatever you slice and avoid your fingers being cut, how to actually keep the knife in your hand, how to move it – after all there is a reason why knives are slightly rounded).
As the cooking takes place about twice a week, he does not get bored. He also enjoys that he shares this time with me only. Besides he can smell and taste whatever he wants (he tries much more than earlier when only I cooked) and I tell him stories around cooking (e.g. why one does certain things). He enjoys that there is a rather quick and tasty result of his work. Needless to say, given his olfactory preference, he sometimes opens my little spice jars just to stick his nose inside and learn what is turmeric, what is cardamom and what juniper smells like.
We are still way from him being able to cook anything on his own (and handling fire/stove is one thing I do not allow him yet) but whatever we do strengthens his self-esteem; he tells others (e.g. his grandparents) about each cooking session.
In the meantime we also have a little tradition – each cooking session must end with a joke or riddle for our head gourmet aka daddy. It started with my son learning about the five basic tastes – he did not know the umami (savory) one – so I demonstrated it using some soy sauce of course. He had then the idea to “cheat” daddy that he was drinking coffee while in fact it was a teaspoon of soy sauce. And so it went, now I have hard time thinking about what would make a good joke or riddle.