About Other People

Part of what helped me see the error of my ways, that of living a narrow experience of life (see previous post), was breakfast with my friend Kara. When I say breakfast, you know I mean Tandem.

Over granola and tea (not crepes and coffee for once), we talked about her Kindergarten son making lunch for him and his 3-year old sister. I talked about making school lunches for an 11-, 8-, and 5-year old, and how I dread this part of the school year. I wanted to know what a 6-year old making lunch looks like, so Kara described, in the most non-pretentious way possible, the laying out of the deli meat, the slicing of the Kerrygold cheese, the addition of the sprouts and the hummus, and the rolling up of the “roll-up.” Kid-size apron, chef’s hat, and knives are all involved as well.

She said he’s been helping her in the kitchen for a few years already, and in that moment, I began to know myself better. My valuing of efficiency, cleanliness, and control has trumped the development of my children’s skills and self-esteem. They haven’t experienced a sense of pride and accomplishment in the making of a lunch, and I haven’t experienced the letting go of this one area that would ease a big burden for me on school mornings.

I came away from breakfast with Kara not discouraged, but inspired. I will buy that turkey and that cheese and those sprouts and those kid knives. I will teach my kids to make roll-ups and give them permission to make a mess as they learn. I will entrust something useful and important to them, letting them take at least one responsibility from my plate and put it on theirs.