Monday, March 24, 2014

Chocolate chip cookies.

I asked Oliver if he'd like to make chocolate chip cookies with me tonight. He had two questions: 1. Can I measure the ingredients myself? and 2. Can I have a cookie when they're done?

I agreed to both demands and so we made cookies. When we were done with the mixer, Oliver asked to lick the dough off of the beater. I thought about all of the times I got to lick the beaters when I was young. Hell, I still lick the inside of the bowl if I am feeling particularly indulgent.

So, I told him to go for it.

"Don't tell me what to do! I can measure it by myself."

Colin is Oliver's constant shadow. Especially during such exciting times as these.

Licking the batter.

On Wednesdays I take an ECFE class with Colin. He really enjoys it, but sometimes the parent portion of the class drives me crazy. It's mostly filled with fretful mothers of just one child, so some of the questions they ask can border on obsessive worrying.

"If I don't give my son what he wants, he will go for 12 hours without eating!" (Big deal.)
"My daughter doesn't show interest in the finger plays! What do I do?" (Who cares.)
"Can I let my son sleep in a wet diaper or should I wake him up?" (Who would ever wake up a happily sleeping kid?!)

They clucked at me when I told them all that I took down the baby gate, but do you know what? Colin has fallen down the steps the least of all of us.  In fact, the one time (it was while we still had the gate up, even) Colin fell down the stairs, he laughed about it. But the other parents don't see it that way. They just see a big red "DANGER DANGER DANGER" sign and assume we should still have the gate up and the bumper pads on the furniture and video monitor capturing his every move. I just don't see it that way.

A couple of weeks ago, somebody gave their definition of parenthood as being the "protector of our children from all danger."

That might sound nice and all, but sometimes I think a little danger is good for a kid. Colin is the best climber in his class because I let him climb.  Not just on the rounded plastic preschool toys but on the playground and in trees and on rocks and other things that he finds. Colin can sometimes open his own packages because I carefully taught him how to use a pair of safety scissors. Oliver knows the basic concepts of cooking and measuring and using the mixer because I let him try those things out on his own. I let him taste the dough because who doesn't love raw cookie dough, even if it means gambling on the 1 in 30,000 odds of getting salmonella. I put plates of steaming food down in front of the kids and warn them, "It's hot! Don't touch." and so now they know not to touch. I let the kids play in their bedrooms together where I can hear but not see them, and now they can sometimes solve their own problems. It's made them co-conspirators.

All of those other parents wouldn't dream of letting their kids do these things, but so far it's worked really well for us. When I say something is dangerous, they know it's dangerous and not maybe-possibly-you-could-be-a-little-hurt. Both of my boys are independent and competent and happy. I'm happy that I don't have to worry so much. With this situation, everybody is winning.

(Except for those other poor mothers who must take up my share of worrying for me.)

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