Saturday, June 26, 2010
Grampa Applaud's Joe's Creation of Cheezy-Whips!
By now, Joe is seven and exploring the world of our refridgerator, where he knows he has continuous access. He'd had his regular sucker--but he was hungry for more and I suggested Choco-Cheese Sandwiches, like the ones he'd built for us the last time the whole tribe of brothers and sisters came over for a rainy day.
But alas, no chocolate syrup to be had--so Joe gathered the the individually wrapped cheese slices, we got some sliced potato bread and rummaged around for a topper. In these experiences, I've learned to ask leading questions--but let the youngster take charge and anticipate the challenges that building these confections will take.
Suddenly, there it was--left over whipped cream in an areosol can we'd use to make strawberry shortcake. We found a clear spot on the table and set up shop. Leading questions are so much better than instructions. It gives the child the impression that he is completely in charge.
An adult and maybe even an older child would have cut each of the two slices of bread in fourths, but not Joe--he was all about building before any cutting took place. At each stage, it's important for Grampa to show no disapproval or label anything wrong. We'd chosen a sharp knife together and he'd demonstrated that he knew how to handle it safely.
He got stuck unwrapping the cheese, because I let him--and he's growing up a little, because he kept at it after initial trys didn't produce results. Using the conspiratorial tone we've developed as friends, I showed him the trick about unwrapping the tab first--and pretty soon two neatly unwrapped slices were in place--then it came to whipped cream. Gramma Rosie showed him how to hold it..and it was all he could do to just hold it straight up and down--so I did that and he carefully pushed the nozzle sideways. He had a surgeon's touch -- rare in one so young. A bit came out--and then a little more. By the time he got to the second batch he was pumping out whipped cream rosettes and laughing about how much fun he was having.
That's the key--food and fun and applause---Kit's of every age love applause--someone to pay attention and signal approval. It's what a psychologist called, "bid for approval" (When our 34 year old now officially divorced "youngster" comes home, we turn off the TV and pay total attention to him. Besides he's much more entertaining than anything Hollywood could dream up.)
After Joe had built and snarfed two batches of what we came to call Cheezy-Whips (All told about four slices of bread and the same number of cheese with a little whipped cream) Joe was ready for some big muscle fun. (Kids seem to know when it's time to shift gears.)
For years--since before Joe was born, the favorite indoor/outdoor toy of choice is ballons--that the kids can blow up with little pumps for approving adults to tie--and then use them in all kinds of outdoor or indoor games.
Catch, Launch like a rocket, and Pseudo Soccer are Joe's favorites. I tried to sit these out...but since he was the only kid and Gramma Rosie was doing sumpin' else--he called to me, and I went. Good thing I was wearin' my pedometer. I chaulked up a healthy half a mile playin' with Joe most all after noon.
Cooking builds confidence, depending on how the adult handles it. If there's a bit of quiet and a leading question, it works most effectivley. Give every opportunity for the kid to be in charge.
When our two were that age, they'd save up money (that's so important to satisfy the good training of delayed gratification--and we'd go to the store to get what they wanted to buy. From the beginning I would act like I was browsing near the check stand--and very soon, Jeff and Sally knew they had to pump up the gumption to ask for what they wanted and deal with the clerk themselves. Sally only begged me to "get it for her" once. A gentle, matter of fact chat behind the toilet paper set her straight and she came to enjoy the challenge of "doing" for herself.
Today both kids Jeff, 34 and Sally, 32 are successfull professionals who deal with the public every day--gently professionally and still friendly. Jeff may be a bit too effective--cuttin' deals and negotatiting like a pro.
Seven is a magical age. Kids are developing a sense of self that is going to carry them through the rest of their lives, as long as the adults in their lives encourage them and hush up long enough to let them lead out and develop those inner "figure it out" muscles with food and fun, balloons and lots of generous and sincere applaus! JWH