Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Me: laziest housewife I know (Part 2)

Son's school sports day today. We had the best weather and son was amazingly positive today.

Two mothers came up to congratulate me on his achievement in gaining the Chief Scout's Silver Award (mentioned by the Headmaster in the school bulletin last week).

Somehow we got round to talking about my making him tidy up from a very young age. This is really the 'luxury' of a stay-at-home mother. (One mum expressed how because she always had an au pair, her son never had a chance to do this.)

I had the choice of tidying up for him and get it over and done with in two minutes, or making my son learn how to do it, even if it took 20 minutes. I opted for the latter.

When life got a bit messy I used to say, "Let's see if you could put five toys back in the box."

He would then count five toys into the box. "OK, I think we need to put another seven in."

Sometimes it was nine, ten, or whatever number of toys. Sometimes it was five green colour toys (eg five green blocks), or six black cars, or something like that. So 'putting away' was in fact a lesson in counting and distinguishing colours, shapes, etc.

We started doing this from the time he was a toddler. Now that he is a bit older he has to tidy his own room. It's often in a bit of a mess, but there are times when we have to -- together -- sort the stacks of books and magazines on the floor, etc. He still needs help, of course, in reaching the higher shelves and strength is pushing books aside, etc. But the principle is that he understands what being 'tidy' means.

'Tidy' does not mean 'spotless' in our house.

By the age of two he could read and understand numbers. Walking to the supermarket took a very long time as we would pick a colour of car (eg red) and when we found one that is parked, he would go and read the numbers and letters on the number plate.

I used to think -- when I was single -- how annoying it was that people took their children to do the shopping. Children tend to misbehave there, don't they? Shopping is 'grown up work'. Why involve the children?

Then I learned that shopping is a great opportunity for children to learn, "Up a bit. To the left," for example, when looking for a particular item. Sometimes they are looking for a picture. Sometimes they are looking for a letter or word they could decipher. Either way, it reinforces the idea that the ability to read is useful.

Then there are the big aisle numbers on display. "We are at aisle 6 and the butter we need is at aisle 11, in which direction should we walk?" Not only does the child need to recognize numbers, he has to understand sequence -- ascending and descending orders.

Then we have "Mum needs six apples. You have two in your hands, how many more do we need?" So you see, our shopping trips could take some time.

All too soon I found him working out in his head the total cost of what I was buying, and the change I should be getting back from the cashier.

Does it matter if my house is untidy and my meals may be late??

Topic at dinner tonight, while trying to cut a rather large muffin: the difference between a sector and a segment, and he went on to tell us that a tangent at the point it touches the circle is always 90 degrees to the radius.

Me: laziest housewife I know (Part 1)

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