It’s Thursday so it was Ingrid’s turn to cook dinner again.

Today we got hajkbomb, which is a meal that probably only those with a background in Swedish scouting will recognize. It’s a meal designed to be cooked over the hot coals of a campfire, but a normal kitchen oven works equally well. A “bomb” is an aluminium foil package filled with any kind of ingredients: chopped vegetables, potatoes, meat if you prefer, etc. (Potatoes and other harder veggies need to be pre-cooked.)

As is often the case, Ingrid likes things to be the same as they normally are, so the hike bombs in our family always consist of potatoes, salmon, bell peppers and one or two other child-friendly vegetables.

It’s a quick and simple meal and would probably take me about half an hour to prepare, plus some time in the oven. Peel and dice the potatoes, chop the rest while the potatoes are cooking, wrap into foil packages, season, done.

It took absolutely forever for Ingrid. 80 minutes, to be precise. I was so bored and itching to actually do something (other than hover around and be ready to help her when needed, remind her to turn off the stove, etc). I was needed often enough that I couldn’t go off and read a book for example, but not often enough to actually keep me busy. I could perhaps have been even more hands off and let her figure more things out on her own, but everybody was so hungry that I felt I needed to direct her a bit to speed things up somewhat.

It was just like watching a junior programmer take an hour to painstakingly solve a task that in my mind should take all of 10 minutes. Excruciating. Frustrating.

But just like a junior programmer can’t get any faster unless they get to spend that hour on a 10-minute task, Ingrid can’t learn to cook unless she gets to practise, on her own, without me interrupting to tell her how to do things faster.

In fact the process of cooking this dinner reminded me of pair programming. The senior programmer takes on the navigator role – keeping an eye on the goal, making sure the pair stays on the right track, warning of upcoming obstacles. The junior programmer does all the actual coding. Just like we cooked: me making sure we are moving in the right direction, Ingrid performing all the actual cooking.