It’s genius, really. I should’ve known that toddlers are like border collies—without a task they are aimless and grumpy. Last night I picked up Toddler Harbat from school and learned that she hadn’t taken a nap. Uh oh. This usually means she has an acute case of the floppy limbs, an aversion to any kind of direction, a short fuse attached to a big bomb, and a tendency toward hitting and biting. I managed to get her motivated by the promise of making her own pizza. I did this once before with good results, though it was pretty messy.
Aha Watson! It turns out that direction and task were just the things to keep her happy and under control. I made sure she was able to do everything I did, from putting on her apron to sprinkling flour on the dough. I gave her specific tasks and didn’t try to take over. As with the face painting, her attention to detail and motor skills were impressive. Very little flour was scattered on the ground, and she got to taste straight olive oil (didn’t care for it). When the pizza was ready to go in the oven she was, well, see for yourself.
Here’s the wonderful part about this: she’s ready for chores! Whether it’s wiping up her mat or spreading olive oil on dough, she loves being given a grown-up task and the freedom to do it herself. Maria Montessori figured this out a century ago, and I’m just getting around to it now. Montessori schools put emphasis on self-learning and tasks. My sister went to one as a toddler and I could never figure out why the teachers always had the kids washing their chairs. Daily. Now I understand it isn’t the result of the task, it’s the process.
I figure I’d better take advantage of this while I can, until she wises up and starts asking for an allowance. Now if I can put together one of those head-mounted drink trays like R2D2 had on Jabba’s sail barge…