Inspired by my recent readings on unschooling and Montessori philosophy (admittedly not much, just a smattering of articles thus far), I have decided to start saying “yes” to the kids whenever I can rather than trying to keep them still and quiet all the time. I try to let them be kids a bit more (still within limits, I’m only human). Letting them be with me in the kitchen, watch as I do grown up stuff, allowing them to help as they show a desire. So, I have been doing more of that kind of stuff with them.
For some reason today I decided it would be fun to allow Christina and Soren help me make cookies. (Why do I always seem to bite off more than I can chew on the very days our priest is coming to dinner?) I got a large vinyl mat, spread it on the kitchen floor, and let them help me assemble mixing bowls, cups, spoons, etc. So we sat on the floor (I on a child size step stool), and they each got a measuring cup and started “measuring” the flour. I really tried hard to let them do it, but I also wanted an edible dessert to be the end result, so I had to butt in and use “coercive parenting” several times by actually helping them or telling them what to do differently. (I always sort of roll my eyes when I read the parts in the unschooling articles about non-coercive parenting… wondering if they’d ever met a kid… anyway…)
Well, the flour/sugar got mixed ok, but of course as soon as the butter and eggs made their appearance things started going downhill. At this point Christina started chowing on the flour mixture by the handful, interspersed with throwing some handfuls into the egg mixture. The vinyl mat as well as their clothes and faces started taking on a decidedly cakey appearance. I have no idea the proportion of ingredients that finally made it into the batter. I had to do the final mixing myself and I was going to let them form cookies on the cookie sheet, but as soon as they began forming balls and placing them on the cookie sheet, the would pick the same one up and eat it.
Finally, I’d had enough. Exasperated, I shuffled them off to the tub (where they spend an hour happily playing each day as I putter around the vicinity cleaning up, rugrat-free) and literally grabbed huge pinches of dough, smacked them onto a cookie sheet and baked for 10 minutes. In the meantime I cleaned the floor and vinyl mat, which was no small job. Several minutes later, feeling a strange sensation on my arm, I looked down to note that somehow raw egg had ended up coating my skin and was now dried, pulling my skin with it.
The “Montessori cookies” came out edible enough, if you’re under 6, which I suppose is good as I’ve plenty of that demographic stashed around here. I won’t be serving them to our priest tonight, however… I do want him to come back again.
Lesson learned: When forced to choose between child-friendly cookies and a child-friendly mom, I think the latter is the path I will be taking from now on. I’m just not ready for the big time quite yet.