Jan 29, 2013

Even Eight Year Olds Can Be Contributing Household Members

I've always been the kind of mom that does a lot of stuff for her kids, probably too much stuff.  I had an epiphany a few years ago, when my sister was visiting with her then not quite two year old twins, and one of them dropped his sippy cup on the floor.  She said, "Pick up your cup for mommy!", and to my amazement, he actually did.  Maybe I'm slow, but when my kids were that age, I just picked up stuff they dropped, it never occurred to me not to, never occurred to me that they could actually do it. I watched my sister and her kids through that whole trip, and it seemed that her four year old and not quite two year olds were doing more for themselves than my kids, at five, eight, and ten were doing.  That may be a slight exaggeration, but not far from the truth.  I'd been gung ho about developing their brains from day one, but totally missed this whole area of empowering them to do things for themselves, and even, for other family members.  

Since that great epiphany, I've been working to teach my kids the practical, everyday, taking care of yourself kinds of skills that one needs to be a functioning adult.  I think about the years and years it's taken me to teach myself those skills- my mom taught me how to cook, even how to bake bread, but cooking the occasional meal is a far, far cry from planning, budgeting, shopping for, and executing three meals a day.  I was given chores to do indoors and out, but again, completing an assigned a chore is not the same thing as developing routines that ensure all the chores get done. I know my kids as adults will develop their own styles suited to their personalities and circumstances, but I don't want them to have to re-invent the wheel.  I want to teach them everything I know about running a household, and I'm sure as they do it with me, they'll help me develop better ways of doing things.

It's a grand idea, and I've had some success implementing it over the last few years.  My daughters, at twelve and fourteen, make most of our breakfasts and lunch on weekdays.  They don't make dinner as often, but they're building their repertoire of meals they can make without consulting a recipe.  Progress on teaching laundry and toilet scrubbing skills is slower, but we're working on it.  The eight year old boy, though, has fallen victim to baby of the family syndrome, and until the last few months I didn't even try to make him do much.  So don't laugh, but teaching him how to make a simple treat on his own, involving the use of the toaster oven, has made him feel incredibly grown up.  About three o'clock, when we're all tired of our school lessons, and need a little pick me up, he LOVES it that he can go in the kitchen and make a treat for everyone without any help.  

This is one of those ideas we can up with totally on our own, but then I did a google search and realized we weren't the first.  That's the good and the bad of the internet.  Good that you can easily find inspiration when you're stumped, bad that it's hard to feel original anymore.  But here they are anyway, Joe Joe S'mores!

If you live near a Trader Joes, you probably know that their version of of the cream sandwich cookie is head and shoulders better than the mainstream brand.  Especially the chocolate center version.  So buy some chocolate Joe Joe's, carefully remove one side, and place the side without cream on it on a piece of foil or your toaster oven tray:

Add half a marshmallow:

Broil in the toaster oven until browned to your satisfaction:

Pop the other cookie half, with the cream, on top of the hot marshmallow!

Super-easy, gooey, chocolately, satisfying, and an indulgence that won't wreck your diet.  I'm doing Weight Watchers right now, and this little snack is only two points, and more importantly, is decadently satisfying enough to keep me from going on a late afternoon binge.