Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Fostering Independence

So, in two months I will be the proud mommy of an eight-year-old son AND a six-year-old daughter. I am repeatedly picking my chin off the floor, realizing how fast time has flown. They speak in complete sentences, sleep through the night, use the bathroom on their own, (successfully) AND I still get carded in restaurants.** (Audrey just told me the story of Paul in the bible that she learned in Sunday School, and I nearly fell over.) However, even with all these milestones, I would have to say I have not yet fostered their independence like many moms in this stage of life.

Of course, they know their names, phone numbers and address, and I am pretty confident they would be able to rescue me by calling 911 if something horrible happened. (God-forbid!) Yes, they are prepared in the unlikely event they find me bleeding and unconscious….

But, as sad as it sounds, I have just begun to let my kids have some freedom in the kitchen. I know of moms whose children have been cooking meals since the age of three (OK, slight exaggeration, guess that trait is back) and, if their children are anything like mine, I can see why, because mine want to eat ALL THE TIME!!

Do you have ravenous children? Ones that act like you never feed them? They writhe and moan and carry on like movie zombies being held back by peek-a-boo reinforced barriers? Do you find yourself quoting the whole “there are starving people in third world countries” argument, while searching the cabinets for something ELSE that will not ruin their teeth or their appetites?

I feel like this is all I do. Forget laundry, forget dishes, forget my critical need to pluck my eyebrows, I am endlessly handing out food to these metabolic anomalies I call my children!

So. I have had it.

Aside from lunch and dinner, they are on their own.

No, no. I am not being cruel. I didn’t just throw them in the kitchen and yell, “figure it out!” while I sat here and blogged. I supplied parameters, conditions, and a chair.

Here’s how it went.

9:30 am: Kids stumble down the stairs, I am still trying to pry my puffy eyes open with coffee and duct tape.

9:31 am: MOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOM! We want to eat breakfast!

Let me stop here to say just days before this, I started letting Jacob get his own milk and juice for himself; he was INCREDIBLY proud of himself, and the first day he drank about 45 ounces of milk. The novelty has worn off and he is back to his regular 12 ounces…

Me: Well, you know where everything is, so, go get it!

9:35am: Jacob pulls the chair over to the fridge to get the cereal boxes that sit upon it. He gets them to the counter and forgets the chair, choosing to monkey his way to the cabinets for the plastic bowls. He turns into either Mario or Link at this time, and figures out the most difficult and scary way to jump to the floor. He then looks at the chair in front of the refrigerator and works through the reasons why he cannot yet get to the milk. He then pulls the chair using one hand and starts to yell for Audrey’s help when it becomes caught on the floor rug. She runs over and starts pushing the chair in the opposite direction, which leads to yelling and screaming and throbbing toes. Finally, he gets the chair back to the table and gets the milk.

Now, this is where it gets scary. Here he has a full, fresh gallon of milk, and the boy’s collar bones barely clear the counter top. He pours the milk, first, into the bowls. He and Audrey now have bowls filled with milk. I stand by, not saying a word.

9:38 am: Jacob and Audrey laugh hysterically at the fact that they have bowls full of milk. Yeah, I don’t get it either.

9:40 am: Jacob decides there is nothing else to do but pour the chocolate cocoa crispies right into the bowls of milk. While most of the crispies float, the other crispies land on the counter and floor. This again, apparently, is hysterical…

9:43 am: Both kids have more cereal and milk than I would feed them for breakfast in three days, and now it is time to transfer the bowls from the counter to the table.

You might be thinking, Kim, we see you set up the chair, but where are the parameters and conditions? To this I answer, I told them to get their own breakfast, and to leave me be so I could blog, or they would get into trouble. Wait, is that OK???

Anyway, I DO chime in at this point, advising Jacob that precariously carrying one bowl in each hand, three feet to the table, is not a good idea.

However, he somehow manages to get the bowls to the table without spillage and sits down to eat a ginormous bowl of cereal, only to be nagged by his little sister to get her a spoon, napkin, and a glass of water. I can’t help but smirk as his crispies become soggy while he yields to Audrey’s every demand. Hey, I have eaten cold dinners for YEARS now...I am entitled to a chuckle or two...

The next day they made toast, which included 12 slices of bread, butter, peanut butter, jelly, and every blunt knife I have in the house. Oh yeah, I am doing something right…

**I just had to add that. I don't know why.


w said...

9:38 am: Jacob and Audrey laugh hysterically at the fact that they have bowls full of milk. Yeah, I don’t get it either.

... still laughing.


good thing they didn't have toast and mayernaise. mayernaise and platamapus. eww.

Anonymous said...

Hahahahahahah. You should just try my tactic:

Addie: Mommy, I'm hungry.
Me: Hi Hungry, my name is Kearsie.

It at least distracts her for about an hour as she shrieks.

The Retired One said...

Did you say PEANUT BUTTER? Hope you checked the jar, because there is an enormous call-back for spoiled peanut butter right now due to contamination. (I'm not kidding, it has been on TV).
Better check the internet and check your jar...maybe this independence stand's timing wasn't the best!! Hope no one is vomiting at your house by the time you get this!!!

Insanitykim said...

Ahhh thank you for the concern Retired One...yes I am always up-to-date on the latest abdominal disasters and food-borne calamities, and I even make up my own when there aren't enough to freak out about...

This jar is Jiff, and is rather "old" as we have been working on it for about a month now (we keep it in the fridge)so while we are avoiding any new purchases, I think this jar is OK.

I will blog soon about my weird life rules, like not eating salad, pre-cut veggies, my attempts at bleaching lettuce, avoidance of all garnishes, and how my children have been trained to use public bathrooms...


I need a 12-step program...

SierraMac said...

Kim, this is awesome!! We went through this stage as well, and usually I'm too tired/irritated/rushed/frantic/irritated to let Riley get his own food (yes, I know I repeated myself. Me being irritated happens a lot.) Besides, he's not much of a breakfast person. However, we HAVE let him start helping w/dinner, which is usually not a complete disaster. Good for you for fostering that independence! Perhaps they will now know how to correctly make a bowl of cereal before the age of 18... ;-)

Insanitykim said...

Yes I am taking it one step at a time, Sarah...

Today cereal,

I bet Ryan makes risotto, doesn't he???

Lynn Kellan said...

Hi Kim,
Man, I hear ya sister! We mommies spend so much time slingin' hash in the kitchen. A hired chef would be soooo welcome.

However, fostering your kids' independence is so important. Eventually the messes will stop, and who knows? They may start fixing YOU dinner!! WOW!

Insanitykim said...

Yes Lynn,

After all my dedicated cooking for them, I am holding out for and hoping that my kids will one day make me some risotto...mushroom risotto...mmmmmm

This Crazy Thing Called Motherhood said...

My daughter is just like that. The way she moans and carries on, you'd think I lock her in a cage and neglect to even throw her bread crumbs. The kid is always hungry!

Anonymous said...

Wow, I can totally relate (which is why I checked that box).
I would write more, but the Spazzy 2 year old is screaming her loud head off while the 6 year old is trying to prevent her from washing her own hands.............

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