Peel your own orange

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My kids speak fluent sarcasm and I love this about them.  I love that I can joke with them and they get it.  The other morning they were getting ready for school, making their breakfast and packing lunches.  Sam told me he wanted a ham and cheese sandwich and Moira retorted, “Have fun making it!”  She was making her own roast beef sandwich.  About this time, Maggie wandered into the kitchen asking for a bagel with cream cheese.  “Bagels on the counter, cream cheese in the fridge,” I told her, as I sat at the counter and sipped my coffee.

Sam says, “You know mom, some parents actually make their kids’ breakfast and pack their lunches.”  Sarcasm.  Told you – they speak it.  “Yes, I’ve heard that,” I answered, not getting up.

“So why don’t you?” he asked.

“Because mom wants you to be independent,” Moira answered for me.  “So when you get to college you won’t starve!”

“Sure, that’s it,” I said.  “Why else?”  I wondered.  I wasn’t asking so much as thinking out loud.  Most of my parenting is gut-reaction.  Then, later, I might go back and reflect.

“I heard a story about a kid who was 9 and didn’t know how to peel an orange,” Moira said.  “His mom always peeled it and packed it in his lunch and then one day it wasn’t peeled and he didn’t know how and asked his teacher.”

Maggie giggled.  “I can peel my own oranges.  I’ve done it since I was like, 3!”

They all thought not knowing how to peel an orange was funny.  Meanwhile, I’d had either too much or not enough coffee and was thinking deep thoughts for so early in the morning.

“Yes, but that’s the point.  I want you to always peel your own orange, or at least know how!   I also don’t want you to think you need someone to do things for you all the time.  Somebody feed me, somebody wash my clothes, somebody do my work…  If you are hungry, get some food.  If your clothes need to be cleaned, wash them.  If there’s work to be done, do it!  You can depend on yourself.”

“So,” Sam says, “You’re saying that you’re sitting there drinking coffee while we pack our own lunches and get our own breakfast because you are a good parent?”  He grins that wonderful grin of his.

“Exactly!”  I answer.

“Or you could just be lazy,” he says.

“Or it could be both,” I reply, and wink at him.  The kids all laugh and I pour more coffee and watch my independent, smart, sarcastic kids and I feel quite cheerful for so early in the morning.

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