Monday, May 20, 2013

Go Fry an Egg!

A few weeks ago, I heard Lenore Skenazy speak. If you don’t know who Lenore Skenazy is, search Google for “world’s worst mom” and you’ll learn all about the New York City woman who let her 8-year-old son ride the subway home from Macy’s all by himself. He asked to do it, they studied a map, and practiced the route. On the big day, they said goodbye in the handbag department and he went on his way with a subway pass. He made it home, couldn’t have been more proud of himself, and she never looked back. Until her blog post about this little rite of passage went viral and she became the World’s Worst Mom, exposing her son to all kinds of stranger dangers, germs, and death by giant subway rats. When the dust settled, she wrote a book called Free Range Kids and has become a national superhero of courage to banquet rooms of moms like me who are terrified to let our kids out of our sight.

So last week, when Amelia asked to make her own egg, I thought about Lenore Skenazy. 

What’s the worst that could happen? It’s an egg in our kitchen, not a Manhattan subway. So I gave her an egg and a bowl, and clearly I’ve made her terrified of breaking an egg, because she tapped it about a dozen times so gently it barely made a sound, let alone crack.  She finally whacked it harder, and surprise! Fingers in the eggshell.  Salmonella?  No, I told myself… let her keep going.  She proudly and carefully separated the shell and slid the yolk into the bowl.  Phew!  She did it right. Actually, she did it exactly as she’s seen me do it about a million times.  Hmmm.  
number 6 is Amelia's - ready to cook?

But back to the salmonella…go wash your hands twice, with soap. 

Only we weren’t finished. She also wanted to drop the egg into the pan and watch it sizzle. OK. We positioned a stepstool in front of the stove, and I placed a pan on the burner to heat. She climbed up, duly warned about NOT TOUCHING ANYTHING.  Raw eggs were no longer the biggest danger in the room, now we had EXTREME HEAT and I didn’t want to mention the potential for PAINFUL BURNS.  From about 2 feet away, she poured the egg from the bowl into the pan and got a satisfying sizzle. And that was it. She wasn’t interested in watching it cook, flipping it (thank God!) or anything else. She was off to play until it was safely on a plate on the table. 

Well, that wasn’t so bad. 

Before I had a kid, I read an article about having difficult conversations with children. It said to answer only what the child is really asking – so “where do babies come from?” for a preschooler is probably a pretty direct answer, without all the discussion a teenager (doesn’t) want.  Tell the truth, and be ready for her to change the subject.  Crack an egg, then go get the My Little Ponies.  Amelia’s growing up, sure, but this 5-year-old still has the attention span of, well, a 5-year-old.

She’s asking to do the things she’s ready to do, and I’m glad. Because coming up are a bunch of things that I’m not ready for her to do, so we’d better ease in. Things like ride a school bus by herself to kindergarten. Buy (and choose!) her own lunch. Go on playdates without me. Well, maybe that last one is OK.

So for now, when there is an egg to be cracked, Amelia is in charge. She hasn’t dropped one yet.

Thank you, Lenore.  You’re not the world’s worst mom. In fact, you're a lot like my own mom. Thanks, mom. And Happy Mother's Day!

Want more Mess? Check out A Crafty Mess over at Charlotte Parent, or visit me at my Etsy store, Made by Mommy!  Or better yet, leave a comment here - I'd love to hear from you, and I promise to write back!

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