Monday, August 12, 2013
It's not about the apricots
A few weeks ago I returned from a work trip east of the mountains with two boxes of apricots. We dried a bunch. Made this jam with a few. And we put a few in jars. I asked Liam if he wanted to be in charge of packing the jars this year and he said "by myself?" and I said, "well, sure, I'll be here if you want help; I'll make the sugar syrup." So he got out his little knife, washed his hands really well, and started to pit the apricots and drop them in. A little instruction along the lines of make sure you get the bottom of the jar really full, we want to pack them in tight, and he was off. He packed four jars. He didn't cut himself, he didn't lose interest.
The thing is, the thing that is so easy to forget is, it's not so much about exactly how safely he can use the knife or whether he will actually finish packing the jars. He has practice enough to be safe enough with the knife* and apricots are pretty low risk. Besides, I'm right there, I'm watching. It's about him understanding that I believe in him; have confidence in his skills and ability to contribute something of value in the house.
He had a great day today; a four-hour play date with no fits or yelling, all disagreements worked out amicably; lunch in the chicken fort. So many of the things I see as behavior challenges on my good days and character flaws on my bad are undoubtedly something else entirely. Tiredness. Hunger. Too many instructions. Too little undivided attention. My own moods. He needs to understand beyond all doubt that I know for sure he is not just the fits and the whining and the spilled and broken stuff. He's also the kid who will jump up and pack four jars of apricots.
*That band-aid is from some other insult, not this adventure. See his bent fingers in the first picture? I taught him that. He knows how to keep his fingers out of the way of the knife.