Saturday, July 7, 2012
Independence for Mama and the Boys
Just a few days before the Fourth of July the boys and I went camping. Though they played in the water while I set up the tent, collected rocks while I prepared the foil packet meals, and decided to read in the tent while I cleaned up, they were REMARKABLY present when it came time for dessert. In fact, they jumped for the roasting sticks and commenced scorching marshmallows over the fire. I collapsed at the picnic table, content that once again, my children were experiencing another rite of passage in growing up.
But...I was tired, sore (my bones don't sleep on the ground well anymore), and perhaps a little cranky. These two boys, ages eight and ten were certainly capable of helping me. To their credit, they did help lug the gear on the trolley to and from the campsite. Yet they could have done more. The question I pose today is SHOULD they have done more?
A week later I have been scurrying around the house, sweeping the floors, gathering the recycling, putting the clothes in the appropriate dressers, making breakfast and lunch while the boys...play. Remember, I am a HUGE advocate for play. I believe much learning takes place during unstructured play. Yet in the last few days I have also become a huge advocate of "Not-being-the-maid."
When do I start expecting my children to start helping more? What is appropriate to expect of my eight and ten year old boys? The boys will help if I repeat a directive over and over, threaten to take away the Wii or gnash my teeth in a scary manner. When do they begin to help independently? When can I expect them to get their own lunch?
Now this "teacher on vacation" is recalling the Responsive Classroom approach. I need to teach the skills I want my boys to practice independently. I have to show it, discuss it, allow them to practice, coach, and then observe them practice the skill on their own. For instance, this noon I taught the youngest how to make a tuna fish sandwich. From using the can opener, to adding basil and onion, to taking care of the tin can for recycling my kiddo made his (and my) lunch. I showed him how to add just enough spice, he practiced, I offered feedback. We dined together and he was clearly excited about his creation.
As I become giddy with the thought of my boys becoming more independent in helping around the house, I seek feedback. Help me, oh parents of older, younger, and same age children. What do you expect from your kids, and when do you expect it? How do I work best to assure my boys won't be paralyzed at the age of twenty five when it comes to sweeping floors or preparing meals?