November 17, 2009

On becoming a Bus Boy

Bear and I have been hard at work adding some more Montessori ideas to our day to day life.  Considering I have no training in Montessori and am going mostly on written word and a bit of instinct, Bear has been a very good guinea pig sport about the whole thing.

We have been following the method for toilet training and I am LOVING it!!  Seriously!  Haven't had to change a poopy diaper in over a month.  Oh, don't you worry, I certainly will be blogging about that (the toilet training, not the poop you Josie Grosie!) soon enough. 

Today though, today we will talk about how I am making Bear into a wonderful bus boy.

He can clean his table after eating with the best of 'em.  Sometimes before he actually considers himself done eating.  Sometimes an hour after he's finished eating.  Sometimes he courteously clears my space before I'm done eating.  Ok, so we have a ways to go, but I'm going to barrel ahead anyway and tell you what we've done so far. 

Right around Bear's 1st birthday, I started introducing him to sitting at a table.  He had the proper attention span at this age and he was finally tall enough to sit comfortably at the table.  We would practice sitting each day by playing games, reading etc.  When we were finished, he'd practice pushing in his chair.

That didn't take too long to master, so then we began having breakfast at his table.  Bear would sit on one side and I'd sit on the other modeling how to eat.  He already had practice eating with utensils and drinking out of a pitcher and cup, so it wasn't that big of a deal to put it all together.  It was actually almost anticlimactic.

We continued on until at about 14 months we were eating two meals at the table whenever we were home.  I always modeled proper eating and clean up and most days he'd push in his chair and walk away.  Then magically at about 15 months, Bear became very interested in being a bus boy.  He began to thrive on helping.  He wanted to stop using his plastic plates and instead use what I was using.  I cringed, but it made sense to me, so I packed up most of his baby stuff and pulled out the less loved grownup plates.

 He now likes to clean up not only his own plates, but the plates of everyone at the table.  He handles them carefully with two hands and I must say rarely spills anything.  When he does, he has learned to ask for a wash rag and then he goes to clean up the spill.  That or he calls for the dogs to come and make his mess disappear.    

Look at his face.  He means it during clean-up time.

We have now moved on to a true table with four little chairs and sometimes on the weekend, the whole family sits there to enjoy lunch together.

When I started this whole thing, I would occasionally wonder why I was doing it because before I could, ahem, pen him into his highchair.  While I did have a week or two where it was impossible to let my attention off of Bear while he ate, I am happy to report that now I have broken even.  He sits happily at his table to eat and because of the independence and confidence it affords him, it allows me time to go to the bathroom, or stoke the fire or read a novel.  Well, ok, not that last one, but I do find the system works for both of us and most days I enjoy sitting right there at the table with him.


We share suppers in his highchair and will continue to do that until he can sit at the dining room table on his own because I feel there are important elements to be learned there, too, but I've gotta say I love the fact that he can sit at his own little table!

I have less crumbs trailed around the house because he eats his snacks there.  His skills with drinking and utensils have improved greatly and he really is developing into quite the bus boy.  I like to think that in  today's economy, not only am I teaching him good manners, but potentially prepping him for the job market ahead.   


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