Cooking Is Connecting, ft Chef Kibby (audio & transcript)

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Chef Kibby 0:00 I think the biggest struggle that that many of us parents face when it comes to relating to a child who has behaviors that seem to push away and push against us is to understand that those behaviors are a form of communication. Amy Watson 0:18 Hey, everyone, and welcome back to the donor support at Wednesday’s with Watson podcast. As you know, by now our sole mission is to provide help and hope for those who have experienced trauma and those who love them. We have a mission here, and that is also to provide funds for pro bono counseling to those who can’t afford it. If you’d like to join that mission, simply click on the Contact Amy button in the show notes. While you’re there, if you’re not following or subscribed, I would love it if you would do that. This along with rating and reviewing the podcast helps us get the word out. Now that we got all of that out of the way, let’s step into the healing zone. Today’s guest is here to share one of our aces and dealing with childhood trauma. As we are highlighting trauma in the home with a particular focus on childhood trauma. He is Chef Kibby. And he is he has found a way to connect with children on a practical level level. He is the father of both biological children as well as a foster parent. And I am excited to bring him to the might today. His website cooking is is an excellent resource. And after this episode, you’re gonna want to make sure you head over there. We will provide that in the show notes. So welcome chef Kibby to the podcast to the Wednesday’s with Walton podcast. I’ve been so excited for this. Chef Kibby 1:41 Thank you so much. I’m so glad that we were able to finally connect. I know that we had some some scheduling issues here and there. But I’m so glad to finally be talking face to face, Amy Watson 1:50 same same life of a podcast. All right. Well, I. So you and I connected on an audio app called clubhouse. And people have heard me talk about it before. And I just really loved what you had to say. And I immediately sent you a DM and when I say I love what you have to say I just love what your passion is, which is cooking is connecting with your children and with children in general. And so I wanted to bring you onto the show. And so then we began to communicate back and forth. And I just was like this is going to be one of our aces in this childhood trauma focus. So you have found a way and a very effective way and practical I might add to build connection with children with or without trauma, right? This is a trauma podcast. But with or without trauma, you have found a way and we’re gonna get into that. So I want to dive into what that mission is, how it started and all of that. But first tell us so you are a father of how many children? Chef Kibby 2:47 Well, I currently have three children under my roof being a foster adoptive parent, you know, sometimes that number can fluctuate from time to time. But we do have both biological and one child that we have fostered and adopted out of the foster care system. Amy Watson 3:02 As a product of the foster care system. I’m so grateful for people like you who bring children into their home and you never know whether you are going to be the one that plants a seed or gets to later much later in life. Reap the seed I on my 50th birthday. It happened to be a Wednesday and we dropped a podcast episode and I was able to get my foster mom onto the podcast and and she was you know she planted seeds. And later people other people were able to reap them and now she can see it thanks to social media and all the things but so foster foster care is very, very close to my heart. So that begins the Genesis I think into cooking is connecting. And so one day you’re preparing as you told the story on the on the clubhouse stage, you were preparing dinner for your daughter or dinner period. And your daughter asked if she could help you chop some some vegetable rubbish, as you called it. Can you share that story with us including what you glean for that? Because I think that that is so important. And and I’m guessing the genesis of what what you’ve figured out in this cooking, cooking is connecting can you share with me that story and why it was so powerful for you? Chef Kibby 4:14 Sure. And to that point, I think it’s important to kind of put this interaction with one of my daughters in its proper context leading up to that evening. A lot of things that happened in my life in the in the months that led up to that night was in the middle of the COVID 19 pandemic. And before March or April of 2020 I had a family catering business. I was doing hands on kitchen sessions. I was creating my first podcast series. There were a lot of things that were working in my favor. When COVID happened when the lockdowns began. That was all taken away from me. And not only was my business taken away from me, but also my sense of validation for who who I am as as a man and as a chef was taken away. But to be completely vulnerable with you as well, I had lost a bit of my escape, because as a foster adoptive Dad, we were dealing with a lot of behavioral issues, issues at home issues that I was not fully prepared to deal with, mentally and emotionally and relationally. And so I was able to use my position as an entrepreneur to kind of escape from things and just pray for my wife that God would enable her to be able to handle things with our kiddos, I lost all of that escape route. And when that happened, I came back to the place where I find comfort. And that was the kitchen. The kitchen was a place being a certified chef, being someone who had been in the industry for 25 years, that was a place of comfort and a place of rest. And a place where I felt a little bit of control in my out of control world. Now, at the same time, I was coming face to face with a lot of these relational issues. And I was faced with a choice as to whether or not I wanted to continue down this road of frustration and agony and just butting heads with with my children and with the other caregivers in this home, or to seek some help. Whether it be through through books, through courses, through listening to podcasts, through bringing in trauma informed counselors, which we as a family did all of those things and more. And through that process, I was beginning to reshape my own understanding of myself and of my children, and specifically of how trauma had impacted my children, especially those who would who had come out of the foster care system. And it was in that, that redevelopment of myself in my mindset that this interaction took place. And just as a reminder, this was not something that I did. One of my children had to come to me in the place where I was safe, chopping vegetables getting ready for dinner that night. And she came to me and asked me if she could chop her vegetables, my my vegetable scraps. Now this was not something that was going to help me make supper it in a strange way. It it wouldn’t help me at all, it potentially create a distraction. Yeah, potentially, yeah. And I had to stop and think about what it is that my child was asking me to do. I mean, obviously, she was asking to take the vegetable scraps and chop them up, even though they were just gonna go get tossed out to the chickens so that they can eat them. But what I saw in that moment, was that my child was reaching out to me for connection that she saw me she saw what I was doing in the kitchen, as, as an expression of myself as an expression of what I am capable of doing, as an expression of love and compassion toward her and other members of the family. She aspired to be like me in some way to be able to handle herself and to excuse me, to handle a knife the way I do, and to be able to create, and to produce, and to serve others in this way. But most importantly, to see it from an aspect of, of connection. Yeah. And that meant so much to me in that moment that it helped me to move away any of the the other possible concerns that also came up in my mind in that moment concerns for my my time, the distraction that it may cause that there are other things that she could be doing with her time, not to mention just the safety issues and everything else, that I was able to overlook all of those things and see the need for connection. And that helped me to turn that all those potential nose into a yes. So to say, yes, kiddo, let’s, let’s grab you an apron. Let’s grab your cutting board. Let’s grab you a knife that’s appropriate for your level of skill at this particular moment in time. And let’s allow you to do that. And it was in that little itty bitty yes, that I began to form some new neurological pathways in my own mind to be able to see her differently, to see my role in her life differently, and to see the potential that the kitchen can have for healing relationships. Amy Watson 9:47 And I want to get back to that in just a second. But before I do I want to know something because you said something on the on a podcast episode and I’ll link this episode in the show notes about that day and And I think that this was so eloquently put. And so for my listeners out there who are, who have children in their home who have been traumatized, either as a result of adoption, trauma, foster care, trauma, or something happened in your family, God forbid, you thought for a second and said, What is the need? What is her need, behind this request to help me chop, chop vegetables. And you realize, as you just so eloquently said that she needs to connect with me and was astute enough, like you said, to know that this was your happy place. And this was a place where she could enter enter into your world and connect with you. And so you kind of just hit on something you’re like, Okay, cooking, is definitely a way to help children connect with especially foster parents, but especially when trauma is present. Can you tell me a little bit more, you gave a pretty funny example about some of the ways that they could express their emotions in the kitchen. So I would just love for you to expound a little bit more, but I wanted to, I wanted to highlight that to the listeners that you stopped and said to yourself, What is the need behind the request to help me chop these vegetables. And in that moment, you knew that, Chef Kibby 11:26 and it wasn’t by necessarily my doing a lot of it is just the grace of God, yes, of putting certain people into my life, putting books into my life, putting resources into my life, to help speak this truth into me. And I’m so grateful for that. And I’m so grateful that he’s allowed me to see things differently. I think the biggest struggle that that many of us parents face when it comes to relating to a child, who has behaviors that seem to push away the push against us, is to understand that those behaviors are a form of communication. And that that communication is, is not just about the thoughts that are going on in their mind, but the feelings that they’re having in their body, that it’s connected to things that are going on within their autonomic nervous system, and that specifically, children who have who have suffered from aces, adverse childhood experiences, who have experienced disruptions, and quite frankly, this probably applies to many, if not most children nowadays, because of everything that’s happened over the last couple of years with the lock downs and the masking and, and the restrictions and everything that has happened to decrease the amount of socialization that our children have been permitted to have, that it creates with within them a chronic sense of fear, of anxiety, of Who can I trust, what can I trust, knowing who am I connected with? Or am I even connected with myself, one of the biggest revelations that I’ve had Amy, is to understand that there are things going on, in my in my child’s mind and in her body, that she does not understand that there is not the integration between her nervous system and her brain to be able to recognize, acknowledge and then to vocalize, the needs are that that is a that is a that creates a lot of challenges for us as caregivers, because we have to kind of put on these, these X ray goggles, and kind of try to see past the behaviors, and try to figure out what the need is. And one of the great things about food, particularly food is that it is such a deeply embodied experience. It is more than just the sense of I am putting an apple in my mouth, I can taste what it tastes like. It is all of the sensations that come before it the sensations of hunger. And we often take for granted that we understand what hunger is, but again, it is one of those integrated bodily experiences that because we have gone through this cycle of being hungry, of eating and experience the the reactions that our body has, after we have been fed that we take for granted that we understand that when our stomach does this or when our head does this or when our joints do that. It’s because we need food. All right, that is an integration that takes place. Food impacts every aspect of our body and our brain and our memory. And so for us to see it as a way of first of all communicating to our children who have gone through disruptions, whether in your home or before coming into your home, to let them know that they are safe that that they do not have to worry about where the next meal is going to come from or if they’re going to have enough water to drink to know that that is that that is always is going to be a given for them. But then to take it to that next level of expressing to them, your compassion toward them by letting them see that you are preparing food for them, and then ratcheting up a further notch of allowing them into that process. So that that they can take part in expressing empathy to themselves by creating food that they themselves can eat. And then also to express that empathy back to the people in their lives. And to be sitting at that table and saying out loud, you know, before we’ve even, you know, stopped praying, you know, I helped cook tonight yes, and the pride that they see in that it’s not just a pride in what they’ve done. It’s a it’s, it’s an acknowledgement of the connection that they have with the other people around that table, in partaking communally in this activity of taking into their bodies, things that other people have created for them. It is, is a deeply powerful experience that I think many of us have taken for granted as merely a convenience or as a given, right. And I’m trying through my content through my public speaking through my workshops, to open people’s eyes to the power that we have at our disposal on a practically a daily basis, depending on your lifestyle, to communicate to our children, how safe they are, how trust worthy we are, and how connected we can be with them. Amy Watson 16:31 I love it, Chef Kibby. And I, you know, we both know about attachment styles. And we’ve mentioned it on this podcast, too. And you even in the episode that I will link I believe, give this example about hunger and caretakers and how a baby cries when they’re hungry. And if they get fed, cool, we’re all good, you got a secure attachment. And then if they don’t get immediately fed, they cry a little bit harder. And then they’re like, Okay, clearly not going to get fed, they ignore the need, they ignore the hunger, they ignore the discomfort and then they have unhealthy attachment. And so for you to weave in, particularly when trauma is present, particularly in foster care or adoptive care type situation, when you weave in something that we need to do anyway, which is eat. I am a survivor of trauma, as many as my listeners know, of 35 years of trauma, including an ace. In this case, again, as you mentioned, adverse childhood experience score of an eight, and a very insecure attachment, and certainly was never fed to this day, I still struggle with an eating disorder. Because I You said we take for granted this, this idea of getting hungry, my body doesn’t get hungry, I just don’t eat because that is how important making those connections in childhood is and what you’re doing is so unbelievably amazing. Because you can rewire those neural pathways, particularly in a in a child’s brain. We our brains don’t stop forming until you’re 25. And so when if we’re catching on, in 7,10 12, whatever, we are healing, those attachment styles that they learned in infancy, which I learned in infancy, insecure attachments, or I don’t trust you at all. And so what you did for her that day, what the need behind the request was something else that you didn’t mention, too, is I think time, which is something that we don’t make more of it is it is one, one of the very few things on this in this world, if not maybe the only thing that we as humans cannot make more of. And so how I would have received that in my foster home was chef Kibby wants to spend time with me. And I’m gonna rock this in the kitchen. And you’re teaching them skills and you’re teaching them all kinds of things. And I don’t want to I don’t want to give away too much because I want my listeners to go to your your your website. But one of the things that you mentioned to me and I thought this was incredibly practical, and I was like, well, I need to start doing that as an adult. So you’re in the kitchen at your havin chicken. And there’s some things you have to do to a chicken breast for chicken. You have a child that needs to get out some some anger and some angst Tell me some of those cool things that you’re doing in the kitchen to help them just basically let some air out of that proverbial balloon, if you will. Chef Kibby 19:24 Yeah, that’s a whole other aspect to food and food preparation that I think often gets overlooked is the idea that the we look at eating as a sensory activity that there’s that there’s touch and taste and sight and smell involved. But the process of preparing food is also very sensory and especially for young people who have issues with you know, sensory deprivation issues or body mind integration, that the the sensory activities that are involved in food preparation can be very healing and very comforting things like that. hot soapy water and scrubbing dishes or cold water running over produce that you’re scrubbing and getting clean. Or in the, in the example of perhaps a chicken, if you have chicken breasts that you need to take a meat mallet to and pounded out super thin, so that it cooks nice and evenly. I mean, that’s comforting to me. Yeah, as a child, I fully enjoy processes like that as well. So getting vestibular sensory inputs and other types of, of inputs into your hands. And then the smells, the touches, the tastes that are involved in that process can be very healing, and again, help with the integration that is so necessary for a child to understand themselves, let alone to understand them in relationship with other people. Amy Watson 20:49 Well, and even things like, because I’m thinking of myself, right, I’m super inept in the kitchen, I always have been. And that is simply because I was brought up in foster care, and then in a children’s home where food was made for the masses. And so I am not adept in the kitchen at all. And I’m also because of my trauma and because and we and we won’t take deep dives in the neuroplasticity in the brain and all the things. But you mentioned that just now, these connections between our sensory bodies and our minds, so something like knife skills, for example, a lot of kids with trauma would struggle with that you would struggle with coordination, which struggle with and I know my my mind is telling me to do this, but but trauma is present and it’s interrupting. And the neural pathways there are not firing. And so something as simple as the dexterity of teaching them that physical chopping, right? It’s kind of like I journal a lot. And they say, if you can, as a as a trauma survivor, journal by hand with your non dominant hand, because you’ll use the other side of your brain because when trauma is present, and children, there are some deficits, deficits that we have, and what you’re doing in the kitchen with these kids and the connection and things that you’ve said, the cold water, right. So if they walk in from school, and they’ve been bullied, and now they felt rejection again, same way, if somebody rejected them clearly, or they would not be in the foster care system, and they come, they come into your home after school fully activated nervous system on, you know, on steroids, and all the adrenaline dumps, and all the things, something that you just mentioned. And this is just a trauma hack, putting your hands under cold water, that hot, soapy water is helping and certainly pounding and chicken breasts would be would be would be therapeutic as well. And so I love I wanted you on for the series, because I think that is such a practical way to connect with kids in our home, who have experienced trauma. And I have lots of listeners who have adopted children, or trauma happen as a result of something else outside the home or maybe even trauma inside the home, unfortunately. And so I love what you’re doing here, I would love for you as we close out the podcast to tell us a little bit more. So I was on your website this morning. Cooking is And you have there a 20 day. I don’t want to call it a challenge but a 20 day program whereby you help parents understand the importance of things that we can’t cover in a podcast. And I would love for you as as as I want your content out there. I want my listeners to be able to know where to find you what that 20 Day Challenge is and where they can sign up. Chef Kibby 23:28 Absolutely. Thank you so much for bringing that up. So the 20 day cooking is connecting challenge. I want to be clear that I know that there’s somebody listening right now to the sound of my voice and saying to themselves, well, yeah, Chef Kibby it’s easy for you to connect with your child in the kitchen. Because you’re a chef, I want to be absolutely clear that you can take this mindset home to your kitchen, no matter how comfortable no matter how confident no matter how competent or incompetent, you may feel in the kitchen. If you can put on an apron, you can connect with your child in the kitchen. And in fact, that’s one of the best places to start. Ask your child to tie on your apron for you. Wow, you can ask them to do things that aren’t even involved in the in the preparation process, I wouldn’t recommend taking a child who’s in the middle of you know those cortisol dumps, running through their nervous system and hand them a knife. There are a lot of other things you can have them do have them gather up the ingredients, have them set the table, have them just sit in watch you do something, there’s there’s so many things that you can do. And so my encouragement to you who are listening right now is to take what it is you already know and are already comfortable with doing in the kitchen and look at it from a mindset of connection and to ask yourself, What can I allow my child to do? What can I ask my child to do? What choices can I give them in embracing and taking part in this shared act of cooking and eating hang together. And then when you reach a point where you want to do more and need to learn more, then you can come to me and take my knife skills course, or whatever else that it is that I can do to serve you. But the point behind the 20 day cooking is connecting challenge, it’s a series of emails. And each one of these emails is based in an activity that has been identified by child development research as an activity that children need to experience with their primary caregivers, in order to, to provide them with the internal, I would say assets that they need to grow up to be strong and healthy and resilient, and independent young people. And looking at those activities from the standpoint of the kitchen, and how you, as a parent, as a caregiver can, can involve those activities and those interactions, and to see those interactions as things that you can create, or allow to take place through the shared act of cooking and eating together with your child. So it’s not about specific recipes. It’s not about specific ingredients, or pieces of equipment. I can talk about those things all day as well. But the first thing that needs to happen is the first thing that needed to happen for me. And that was changing my mindset around around the role that I can play in my child’s life and the role that cooking and eating can play in the development of a healthier and stronger relationship with them. And so they can find that information. And other resources that I can provide on cooking is Amy Watson 26:36 Thank you so much. And I want to make sure everyone goes to that website. Even I might even sign up for it myself, even though I don’t have children so that I could understand this concept, guys, what Chef Kibby has given you is the ace of spades. And we’re not talking about adverse childhood experiences. In this season, we are talking, we’ve had some heavy stories, we had a couple of heavy stories, and then a couple that were surgical in nature with with therapists that came on and told you a little bit about how you can help your child. But what Chef Kibby has done here today is told us something very simple and so profound. And I just loved what he said when just ask them to tie on your a friend, right? Just ask them to make the grocery list, ask them to set the table. I wish when I look back on my life, that I would have had somebody do this with me, I can tell you as a trauma survivor, and somebody who has done a lot of work in a counselor’s office, that had I been able to stand in a kitchen with anybody who cared enough to spend that much time with me, because that is my love language, spend that much time with me, but then connect with me on this level that eating is one thing that we all have in common, we all need food. And so I just cannot tell you how excited I am to share this resource with my listeners in this series, all of his information will be really easy to find it’d be just I’ll put his link tree there, which is contact, it’ll say contact chef Kibby. And you also have a podcast tell us about your podcast is called the same thing right cooking is connecting, Chef Kibby 28:11 it is cooking is connecting is the name of the podcast. And you can find that through my website, as well. And the purpose behind the podcast is to dig a little bit deeper into the different aspects of the pillars of the cooking is connecting mindset. And again to give some really practical both mindset advice. And then also kitchen advice as to how you can take this mindset and put it into proactive practice. In your own kitchen no matter what experience level or comfort level you have in the kitchen. So cooking is connecting is the name of the program. You can find it wherever you lose, wherever it is, you’re listening to this podcast. Yeah, Amy Watson 28:46 wherever you’re listening to this podcast, and I will put that in there. Well, I want you to know that you are one of my heroes. And I mean that I don’t know you. But I was happy to have connected with you on the clubhouse app as a trauma survivor. I will say it again. I look back at seven year old Amy 10 year old Amy 14 year old Amy. And if somebody would have said, Hey, come in here for a second. And even using some people skills, I need your help. See, I’m we’re just coming off of a huge Enneagram series on my podcast and it was earlier in this season. But had someone come to me and said Hey, Amy, will you help me? Can you pour a half a cup of milk? Can you do this? Can you do that? And I’m a teacher by trade. I was a teacher by trade. I don’t teach anymore. But I would have also taken that opportunity to say See look like this is a like this is a half a cup. This is like 50 cents of $1 50% You know and so there’s so many ways because many of you may have foster children in your home who want zero to do with you. But would but that would. Their heart would go thump thump. Maybe for the first time if you said hey, can you help me I need your help getting dinner done tonight. Grabbed that can set these out for me very practical things. And then then the next step is okay, hey, gosh, we’re really running out of time, can you chop the vegetables. And so I just want to tell you that you are one of the heroes in this fight for childhood trauma. You’re a hero for fostering children. And one day, one day, Chef Kibby, you will stand before God and hear well done. One of the things that we say on this podcast that maybe you could introduce into your program is that I say to everyone under the sound of my voice, this is how I end all of my podcasts. And I speak it over to you chef Kibby, and I speak it over to my listeners, and I speak it over to myself, that imagine cutting in on and going, you are seeing, you are known, you are heard, you are loved, and you are valued. God wanted you on this planet so much, he actually said, You know what, we don’t have one quite like this. And so guys, as you connect with your kids, particularly those with trauma, Chef Kibby has provided some real insight here. Remember, always, always, always be curious about the need behind the request. Chef Kibby, any parting words for us here today? Chef Kibby 31:17 I don’t know how I could possibly follow that up. Without breaking down into tears. I think it’s amazing that you’ve allowed me this opportunity to be vulnerable with your audience and to speak truth and love to them. And to any of you that are listening right now, I just want to reiterate one thing that if you are, have a child in your home that has experienced trauma, one of the hardest things for me, and I don’t think I necessarily touched on this before in the episode, but just as a closing thought that a lot of times it can bring out some of the worst in us that dealing with these behaviors can often trigger things in us that make it difficult for us to to interact with them in a way that is healthy. And one of the most surprising things about spending time in the kitchen with your child is that not only will it help them to grow their attachment to you, but it will also help you to see them differently to grow your compassion and empathy for your child. And I just can’t reiterate it enough of how important that is that not only have I been surprised by how much it has changed my children, but I am equally if not more surprised and amazed at how much it has changed me. And that’s what I want for you. Amy Watson 32:36 And that’s what I want for you guys too. And it’s always true. Anytime you dive deep into work like this, this I tell people all the time this podcast is an example of that, like I never, I never understood that people on the other side of the microphone that I was interviewing was also going to be ministered to. So guys, I want you to head over to kookiness Sign up for that series of emails. And let’s grab some aprons and grab some some kids and get them in the kitchen. Thank you, Chef Kibby for being here with us today. Chef Kibby 33:08 Thanks for having me. I’ll see you in the kitchen. Amy Watson 33:09 I’ll see you in the kitchen. Okay, well guys, I hope that you have enjoyed this episode with Chef Kibby I know I sure have as well as this series on trauma and the home with a particular focus on childhood trauma. Make sure you hit all those buttons right there in your app as for us we will see you back here and the healing zone. And I’m gonna say it again because we can never overstate it until then remember, you are seen you are known you were heard you are loved and you are so so valued. Transcribed by

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