We have all had those days, where your child(ren) need a little something more, you need a reboot... my son and I experienced one of those this past week. Middle of grading for courses, middle of planning another course, the middle of "stuff"- but in that middle-ness, I knew that we needed this. Oobleck.
We were scientists, and gathered our simple supplies- corn starch, water, and a bowl. I had a great set-up, all clean and pristine- but clean and pristine is not practical when you are a scientist. Science is messy, and we are okay with messy. If you have never made/experienced this mixture that is a solid and a liquid- you must try it. It will teach you about life. Really. The process, the mixture, it was one of those moments that I was so grateful that I just let happen, instead of trying to control it or direct it.
When you put your hands in and feel the mixture, it is hard, you can pick it up, you can tear it, but then the heat from your hand melts the mixture, and it gets runny and flows. The more I implored my son to keep the mixture inside the bowl (poor planning on my part- should have used a large plastic basin or at least a larger bowl), the more he wanted to go outside the bowl. We ended up pouring the mixture on our driveway. The look on his face was one of pure engagement- he was experimenting and playing and trying to make sense of this new strange mixture.
For me, the experience effected me on a deeper lever. The more I try to control things and force them, the less it actually happens the way I want it to. The times that I just let go and enjoy the experience and go with the flow, the better it is for everyone, including myself. I can try to grasp at things and hold them, but they eventually change and slip through my fingers, just like that oobleck. We are here on this planet for such a small amount of time- I would rather enjoy these moments and experiences and allow them to flow, and just be what they are, instead of trying to control it all. Trying to control everything is tiring. I don't like the person that I am in those controlling moments, I don't like the mom I am in those moments, I don't like the partner to my husband I am in those moments.
This is the image that I hold on to--- letting go, allowing the seed pods and grass to mix in with the mixture, my son totally immersed in the experience, totally content and at peace, and engaged. Going with the flow doesn't mean checking out and just letting things happen. I will still be active and involved in the experience, but I won't try to micromanage everything. Be present in the moment. Breathe.
I have a picky eater. He is like his mama and has a sweet tooth. We are working on making healthier choices, and a huge part of that process is involving him in the preparation of our food.
I have talked about these nylon knives before-- but they are AMAZING. Seriously. Head to Amazon right now and grab this set by Curious Chef (I don't get anything for sharing this resource-- I am that passionate about involving children in food prep!)-- http://www.amazon.com/Curious-Chef-3-Piece-Nylon-Knife/dp/B002Q5YH9C/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1459786491&sr=8-1&keywords=children%27s+plastic+knife+set
The key is to have all of the supplies set up, and go through the process so that your child understands the steps. We rinsed the strawberries, then he chose a berry, placed it on the cutting board, and cut off the stem. YES-- he cut off a bit more of the berry at times, but this about the process and trusting him. He was in the flow-- he cut the stems, placed them in the green bowl, then placed the whole berries in the clear glass container. He cut 2 packages of berries and was so focused. When he was done, we poured the stems into the silver compost pail, and he snacked on a few berries while we washed the dishes.
Another key- he was at the same height as the counter. HUGE! One of our dear friends gifted us their Learning Tower and I am loving it. It is really heavy, but such a great tool. Prior to the tower, we would just use a step stool or a chair, but I was always a little uneasy with that, this tower is pretty incredible. He can climb in and out of it independently. You can find the tower here- http://www.littlepartners.com/the-original-learning-tower
He knew that we were prepping the strawberries for smoothies and lunches, his active participation increases his "buy-in" and he is much more likely to eat what we have.
How do you involve your child in food preparation?
"If teaching is to be effective with young children, it must assist them to advance on the way to independence. It must initiate them into those kinds of activities which they can perform themselves..."
Beth is a mom first and foremost. She is also a trained Montessori teacher who is passionate about making the lofty ideals of the Montessori philosophy more real and manageable for families.