Thursday, March 19, 2009
Show That Can Opener Who's Boss!
I think it's important to teach my kids life skills in addition to academics. I have taught them how to do laundry and iron their clothes. They have basic cleaning skills, although admittedly they don't apply them nearly often enough. They know how to cook and have learned the basics of measuring, mixing, reading directions, and using the stove or oven. Each of my three children has a recipe box. The box contains recipes they know how to make or hope to learn how to prepare. Over time, the number of recipes increases. My plan is to have a recipe box with many of their favorite meal items written on recipe cards for them to take with them when they live on their own. I'm sure they will still call me with questions from time to time, but that's fine. I just want them to have the basics mastered and they can expand their cooking skills from there. When I have my kids make a recipe for the first time, I coach them through it. I'll do portions of the preparation to demonstrate certain aspects and have them do part of the preparation so we can work closely together. The next time we make that recipe, I have them do all the preparation while I stand nearby to provide clarification or reminders. The third time they prepare the recipe, I take a more passive role and may even go to an adjoining room. I'm still within earshot but they are learning to prepare the item independently. Once, while working with Beckie, we needed to open a can. Our can opener can be touchy, and sometimes I have to manually wiggle the sharp blade into place. It works, but the can has to be aligned just so. Since I gave the manual can opener to my daughter to use at college, the electric one is our only option. I made sure the can opener blade was in position and handed Beckie the can to open. She had trouble getting it to line up, and the can opener made a few whirring sounds without coming into contact with the lid. I encouraged Beckie to keep making adjustments until the position worked, but she quickly became frustrated and wanted me to do it for her. I knew she could do it with a bit of practicing to learn our can opener's idiosyncrasies, so I told her she shouldn't give up so easily. "You just have to show that can opener who the boss is, Beckie! Don't let it win!" Beckie answered immediately with, "I tried that already, Mom. I told the can opener I was the boss and it had to do what I said. But it said, 'Then I quit! So you're not the boss of me anymore!' so I can't make it do what I want." Well. What is one to do with such a recalcitrant can opener? I decided a compromise was appropriate under the circumstances, so I got the opening started and had Beckie hold the can and finish opening it. You have to show the can opener who's boss, even if it takes two of you to do it! Also, I think they can smell fear, just like copy machines that are prone to paper jams, so try to stay calm and present a brave face.