I don’t think I’ve told anyone this story before.
It was my second year at uni and I was living in my first share house in Bathurst, an ugly fibro thing which sweltered in the summer and was so cold in winter you could see every breath.
My flatmates were two young women, both studying to be teachers – one primary, the other early childhood.
A couple of months had passed of us taking it in turns to cook dinner – just enough time for the truth to come out, in particular about me.
“You know you don’t have to have the grill on high!”
I looked at another plate of cremated pork chops I’d created and realised I didn’t know that.
My mum and dad had cooked all my meals up until I left home, and my first year of uni was on campus so I just went to the cafeteria during the week and ate two-minute noodles on the weekend.
Why am I telling you this embarrassing story?
Well, like most people I don’t want my kids to repeat the same mistakes I made. And no, I don’t mean burning pork chops – I mean not having the life skills to leave home when the time comes.
That’s one of the reasons it was so rewarding last week to spend a morning with my seven-year-old son and his school mate at the local supermarket.
As part of their education they get to learn real life skills, like how to go to the shops and buy food for the meals they would prepare the next day.
I was merely the chaperone and watched as they worked out what to do. Once or twice they asked me for help, but I was on strict instructions to let them work it out themselves.
Which they did.
They found an able and willing shop assistant who very graciously located many of the things they were looking for. I’m not sure this was exactly what was meant by doing it yourself, but it was resourceful if nothing else.
When they’d marked everything off the list, they paid for the food themselves – the only hiccup coming when they opened the complimentary movie cards at the checkout, forgetting that people in the queue behind them didn’t really care if the boys already had those cards or not.
But I have to say the most overwhelming response by other shoppers to the boys’ excursion was joy – people couldn’t help but smile at a couple of cute kids getting excited about something we all grumble about.
By the way, I’ve solved the problem with the pork chops – I became a vegetarian. Well, sort of, but that story is for another week.
(PS – Chris here. I’ve got an awesome giveaway coming up and if you’re on my email list you are already in the running (if you’re not on my list yet – join here). In a week or so I’m going to randomly choose someone from my list to receive a free copy of Montessori Madness by Trevor Eissler. It is one of my most favourite Montessori books – it’s written parent to parent and is an engaging and entertaining read. So keep an eye on your email. I’ll be in touch if it’s you!)