Good parenting is all about good thinking, and at this time
of year, it is common for people to look forward and make resolutions about how
they will change their lives. Right now, though, I prefer to look back at what we’ve
accomplished. On the cooking front, I’ve added dozens and dozens of recipes to
my repertoire. Some were born of inspiration—I returned to entertaining and
threw a number of memorable dinner parties—and some were born of desperation—my
Jenn-Air oven is still on the fritz, and just the other day I made my
Broken-Oven Chicken Curry again, and I’m happy to report that it was just as
good this time as it was the first time around (Really--make it, you'll like it!). And this time, the girls ate
the chicken, which might not sound like much, but it is. Pinta, my youngest,
has an odd aversion to chicken, which to my mind is a bit ridiculous, but never
mind that. Yet when she had this chicken curry, she declared that the chicken
was “delicious.” Yes, Victory.
On the parenting front, we introduced weekly family meetings
and allowances for the children. I didn’t grow up with an allowance, and I’m
determined to give my children one, and for one reason only. Money is a tool,
like a pencil or a pen, and the only way to learn how to use it, save it, make
it, invest it, and spend it wisely, is to have some of your own. So they now
get two dollars a week, half of which they have to set aside for savings.
We also introduced more tasks for the children to do around
the house. Some might call these chores, but I avoid that noun (and these tasks
are not directly linked to the allowance because of Reason No. 1 for the
allowance itself). I frame the tasks as things the children need to do to make
life around the house better. I’m trying the “we’re all in it together,” kind
of approach, because, Lord knows, we are all in it together.
So far, this has proven to be remarkably beneficial. The
simple act of having a meeting every weekend in which the children can give
voice to what they want to do—from getting water for the table to setting the
table to putting away toys to folding laundry—makes a huge difference.
Children—like adults, too—like to be heard.
The system is somewhat new, so I might experience different
results shortly, but for now, it’s working almost too well. This evening, Nina
and Pinta were fighting over who could set the table (it was the younger one’s
job, but the older one wanted in on it, too.). Talk about being embarrassed by
riches. My kids were quarrelling over who could do a chore!
I tried to resolve this highly absurd tempest by suggesting that Nina make a centerpiece for the table. It would be nice to have one, I thought,
and it would give her some way of contributing. Unfortunately, I didn’t think
fast enough, and my suggestion didn’t fly. It wasn’t specific enough. I would
have done better to remember the night before, when Nina actually made some underwater origami
that we used to decorate the table. That would have been smart thinking.
What cooking or parenting accomplishment are you most happy with from
2012? I’m interested to hear about your experience at and around the dinner table. Drop me a line or make a comment, and let me know!