Sunday, July 22, 2012

Lessons learned while cooking with toddlers

While cooking with Hannah this weekend, I realized how terrible I am at communicating. It is easy to forget I'm dealing with someone completely new to all things "grown up." For example, by telling her: "fill this with flour and then pour it in the bowl," I didn't specify that she fill it to the top. Which meant, she'd get a good {but unknown} amount of flour in the measuring cup and dump it in before I could stop her. And "crack this egg and put it in the bowl," led to her cracking it perfectly down the center and putting the whole, cracked egg in the bowl. Both times, she'd be proudly ready to go on to the next step and I'd be ready to throw the measuring cups in the air and give up. (And imagine how heartbreaking it must be to think you are making progess, not just in cooking but in life in general, and instead you are only frustrating the person who you were hoping to make proud?! This has given me a new kind of empathy for toddlers. And a new level of sadness about the practice {NOT by me} of spanking little children. Seriously, how heartbreaking?)

I'd immediately get frustrated with her before I'd realize it was pretty much all my fault. I forget how explicit I need to be with a toddler. This is a learning process for both of us, but it is easy (as the grown up) to fall into the trap of thinking only the kid needs to learn. I can't help but wonder how many times the girls have done things that are frustrating, but I don't stop to realize that it wasn't intentional on their part. They are kids. They were just doing the best they could given the information and tools they had. I hadn't shown them exactly what to do. I hadn't given them all the information, explanation, or tools. Or I hadn't shown them how to use the information, explanation, or tools. Anyway, sometimes you can't give all of that at once, it'd be overkill. You just have to let them try, and then patiently take it from there. Bottom line, it never really occurred to me that some of what I see as "misbehavior" isn't a failing on the girls' part {or even on my part}, it is just a step {for both of us} in the learning process? Baking together really drove home the fact that "discipline" means "to teach."


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