I'm trying to keep my business, my triplets, and my waistline under control. I excel at one of those, fail at another one of those, and one is a work in progress. Which is which is day dependant.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Yeah, My Kids Rock

Today I went to SSOTH* to volunteer for a couple of hours in the kitchen part of their kitchen garden program. I have been promising the kids that I would come and help since they started the program *cough* two years ago *cough*.  A couple of weeks ago DS came home in a state of hysteria to tell me that they were down to their very last few lessons and that it was now or never. I managed to get myself organised and so far I've been to one lesson for DD2, today was DS's lesson and in two weeks I've got to go again for DD1's class. Remind me again why I put them in separate classes...?

(Warning: parental brag follows)

One of the things which struck me about these volunteering experiences is just how my my kids seem to have their act together so much more than other kids do.  Both times I volunteered I was really surprised by how much parental guidance these kids needed. They've been working in the kitchen for TWO years now so you would think they would have some idea what they were doing. Yes, my kids have had more exposure to different sorts of food and food preparation than most of their peers - but honestly, some of the blatant clueless-ness shocked me. The first time I was there, I was in charge of 3 kids working on a cauliflower salad. My DD was charged with cutting up the head of cauliflower while two other boys had to make the dressing. I gave them the recipe, read through it with them, and told them to get to it. All the ingredients and tools were lined up, so it was a matter of just measuring it all into the bowl and whisking it up.

"emzee? It says to measure one tablespoon of olive oil. How do I do that?"

With the tablespoon measure right there on the table.

"emzee? Now it says to measure a tablespoon of tahini paste, but the spoon is dirty with the olive oil. What do I do?"

Either get another one, or wash that one.

"emzee? It says to measure a tablespoon of sweet chili sauce but the spoon is dirty with the tahini paste. What do I do?"

Are you getting the picture here?  These are educated, capable kids - for whom everything was provided, and yet they still could not work it out.

Today's lesson wasn't too much better. DS asked me for a demo on how to chop silverbeet, and then went on his merry way. The other kids? Useless. Even after I'd explained and provided a visual. I got the distinct impression they wanted me to just do it for them, even though the kitchen lessons are considered the most fun part of their week and they all seem to love it.  At both lessons a vast majority of the kids bolted once the cooking was done, leaving the washing and organising to the parent helpers. That part wasn't so surprising, after all most kids leave messes for adults to clean up...but what was surprising? All the other parents who made a point of coming up to me and saying, "Your kids are SO wonderful, they always help with the cleaning and sorting out, they always ask to do more jobs, they're so keen to help and work in the kitchen often without needing to be asked." I promise it's not a mother-exaggeration to say I heard that no less than a half dozen times, from parents and teachers. I'll admit to feeling my chest puff up with pride just a little bit.

So here's my question to my fellow parents - what the HECK are you doing with your kids that they are not doing exactly the same thing? If you see my kids behaving in a way you wish your kids did - newsflash - you can actually DO something about that, you really can. I'm not the best parent (hell, it took me two years to find the time to volunteer, didn't it?) My kids are far from perfect. They make messes they expect me to clean up, they ask stupid questions, they are basically just garden variety kids... but make no mistake, they are not at all like their peers. They understand the concept of community - that a kitchen, like a family or a temple or a school - is a community, and it's only by working together that jobs get done. They do their bit to help when they are expected to and even when they're not. In short my kids just seem to have their act together a lot more than their friends seem to. If other parents are noticing it enough to take the time to comment to me, then those other parents need to spend some time instilling those skills and values in their own kids. My kids are not amazing in any respect other than I've taught them to be responsible for themselves and for their community. They've watched as DH and I volunteered for a number of organisations, they've learned that they are a part of our family life as much as anyone else is - in short, we modelled this community spirit for them and so they know no different.

Today (after nearly throttling a kid who asked me if he really HAD to wash the lettuce he had just picked out of the garden which came with a half kilo of dirt stuck to it) I found myself wondering why exactly my kids are so great. Is it because they've only ever known how to live - and therefore work - as part of a team? Is it because DH and I are just fabulous parents? Is it because they are more mature than their peers? Is it because we have given them responsibilities since they were very young? Is it just because they are inherently wonderful people?

Truly, it's probably a bit of all of that. Regardless of the reason, I really did feel a great sense of pride today when I watched my son just get on with what he needed to get done - while the other kids swanned around looking a little clueless. Best of all was the enormous hug he gave me when he saw me waiting in the kitchen AND the enormous hug of thanks I got when he left, neither of which he was embarassed to do in front of all his school mates.

When I got home today, there was a heart shaped card sitting on the front hall table. It was a card from my son with this quote on it: "I would thank you from the bottom of my heart, but for you my heart has no bottom."

So it would seem that my kids are "all that" and grateful, too.

I think DH and I, even with all our imperfections as parents (of which there are many) are doing a pretty good job with these kids - so my pride isn't just for them, it's for us. 
*SSOTH = Shmancy School On The Hill, or the private school I send all my hard earned cash to, by choice. Yeah, yeah, I know, I know...

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