Just A Spoonful of Sugar…

Heard while walking out of the grocery store yesterday, spoken to me by my 10-year-old, Emmie: “You are so lucky, you get to do this all the time!”
She was talking about grocery shopping. 

It wasn’t that she’d never been to a supermarket before.  I have my share of kids-whining-at-grocery-store stories, or kids-reading-embarassing-magazine-covers-in-the-checkout-line stories, or kids-shopping-together-and-running-their-cart-into-people stories.  Yesterday was different, because for the first time, I let her take a copy of my shopping list and one of those small plastic “carry baskets” and head out into the grocery store, alone, while I pushed my cart around and got the rest of the list. (We’d planned to take along walkie talkies, but couldn’t find one of them, so I trusted her maturity instead. She also knows to scream “This is not my parent!” at the top of her lungs if someone were to try to grab her.)  I’d highlighted what I wanted her to find on the list.  She had a blast and felt very important, getting all the items and coming back to me for another “assignment”.  I asked her why she got the super-sized Ravioli instead of regular. “They were out,” she said, matter-of-factly.  “I asked someone who worked here for help.”   Wow. 

When she returned with frozen lunches for her dad to take to work, she proudly announced that she’d studied the boxes and made sure they didn’t have too much fat or salt.  I kept all of her selections, even though some were pretty skimpy for a guy’s lunch (I’ll eat them, or he’ll supplement).  I told her she did a great job.  She was so happy when she was done, she asked if she could always go to the store with me and help out like that. Absolutely, I told her.  It gave her a great “independence” experience, a great self-confidence booster– not to mention it cut my chore of grocery shopping in half!
Which brings me to her comment as we left the store.  Isn’t it funny how kids often marvel at what we take for granted, or find routine and boring?  I remember when I was a kid, saying to my parents, “You’re so lucky.  You get to drive a car, every day!”  I remember my cousins, when they were around age 10 or 11, standing next to my sister and watching her in the bathroom mirror, as she carefully applied mascara. “You’re soooo lucky,” they gushed.  “You get to wear makeup, every day!” If only, as adults, we could always feel such joy and excitement in doing everyday tasks.

While I haven’t mastered that kind of “zen”, I did come up with a way, not long ago, that helps routine tasks seem a little bit more important: Counting. Putting numbers to what I do.  It wasn’t that hard, one day I just kept a mental tally and then after a task was done, I’d write on the nearest scrap of paper I could find. Stuff like: number of emails dealt with; number of coupons clipped and filed; number of minutes it took to vacuum the dining room rug; number of dishes loaded and unloaded in the dishwasher.  It may sound nuts, but it was actually fun (didn’t Mary Poppins say something about making jobs a game?).  And it was eye-opening.  Who knew I drove over 40 miles a day driving my kids around town?!

I did another count today.  When my husband comes home from work and asks me what I’ve been doing, won’t it sound more impressive to say, “I washed and dried 38 pieces of laundry” rather than “I washed underwear and socks”? Or, “I unloaded 56 cups and plates, 34 pieces of silverware, and loaded in 45” rather than “I did the dishes.”  Or, “I composed and typed 636 words!” rather than “I posted to my blog…”

2 thoughts on “Just A Spoonful of Sugar…”

  1. I thought the same thing about the small things that we take for granted or view as a chore that kids find exciting and mine was defrosting the car window in the morning (which I totally hate doing because we are always running late and not to mention it’s freezing!!) but as I do it my 4 kids all sit inside the car and squeal with delight as they watch the bucket full of water melt the ice …..small things amuse small minds πŸ™‚

  2. Thanks for sharing this. I can just hear them squealing! It reminded me that I used to, while putting gas in my car, press my nose against the side windows and make silly faces at  my kids, and they would love it.  I ought to do that again.  While my teenager would now be mortified, my 10-year-old would still get a laugh…

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