Thursday, April 4, 2013

Independent, But With Room For Improvement

My children are 12 (almost 13), 10 and 8 and I am proud to say that they are very independent in the kitchen.  Last summer, after 9 months of making daily breakfasts, packing three daily lunches and preparing nightly dinner, I had had enough, thank you very much.  I instituted a new summer rule:  The Mother will make dinner and stock the shelves with food, The Kids will make their own breakfasts and lunches.  

Personally, I thought it was my best rule yet, but my children were less than thrilled.  My food preparation vacation meant a whole lot more work and a whole lot less fun for my pampered prince and princesses.

There was much moaning and groaning in the house of Elliot.  And I'm sure a coup was discussed, but abandoned for lack of energy - you really get hungry while planning a rebellion.

Henry was probably the least worked up about the new situation.  He's been preparing his own food for years.  It took longer for Georgia and Josie to get with the program, but within a few days, they were toasting their own frozen waffles, pouring their own bowls of cereal and making their own sandwiches and fruit slices. 

I would say that it was a successful experiment:  I got a much-needed break from the drudgery of meal-preparation and the children learned to fend for themselves.  Independence - especially in this age of parent-planned play-dates and helicopter parenting - is not an easy thing to learn, but I think we can all agree that it's a very vital skill.

When school began in the fall, I went back to helping with breakfasts and packing the three daily lunch-boxes, but I drew the line at making snacks.

The children are responsible for making their own after-school meal - which they do each afternoon, without complaint.

Henry likes frozen foods like mozzarella sticks and ravioli.  Josie prefers a bowl of chips or crackers and Georgia is all over the board.  On the day that I took these photos, Georgia was making waffles.

I always feel a mixture of pride and pomposity when I successfully lead my children through a life lesson.  Aren't I a good parent, I think.  My children are learning to cook and how to prepare healthy foods.  They are capable and strong and from this tiny lesson in snack preparation, will come a greater sense of self-confidence that they will carry with them into their adult life.  

I really get carried away...

and then I return to the kitchen after these same wonderful children have finished their snack and moved on with their afternoon, and I find the following mess in their wake:

drawers are open...

plates and toasters are still out...

the cookie sheet used to cook the mozzarella sticks is still on the counter and hasn't been cleaned and see that drawer in the background?  That's where I keep my oven mitts... the oven mitt that Henry took out to use while removing his cookie sheet from the oven and which he just threw back into the drawer without making sure that it was lying correctly and that the drawer could close.

And why Henry used this crazy old, stained pan at the bottom of my cabinet instead of one of the new, clean ones on top, I have no idea.  But I guess he thought that making snacks didn't include cleaning up after himself.  Or perhaps he used this cookie sheet because he thought it was self-cleaning?

It seems that I've taught only half the lesson of kitchen independence.  I've taught the cooking portion / the fending for yourself portion... but not the clean up after yourselves and don't leave a mess for your mother to have to clean up portion.

And that's a pretty large omission.

It is back to the drawing board for me.

I'm not going to be able to claim that Mother of The Year Prize until my children learn to put all their dishes in the dishwasher and to clean all their pans.  They need to clean up after they spill orange juice all over the counter and not just wipe the mess up with a paper-towel and leave the residue to dry.

I guess I should be glad that Henry used a napkin to wipe his face after he ate, but I do wish that he had then thrown away said napkin instead of leaving it on the counter for me to admire.

.... and the cups!  Oh My Goodness THE CUPS!  When will these children stop leaving cups all over my house!?!


I guess I have next summer's independence lesson already planned.

Just when I thought I was done!

1 comment:

Lisa @ The Golden Spoons said...

The independence is great and if you ever figure out how to get them to clean up after themselves PLEASE share!!! :-)

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