Maren Schmidt: Bring something to the table

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As I was getting ready to go on a picnic with some friends, the phone rang, "What can I bring?" my friend asked.

Earlier, I had suggested that I bring the food and that my friend take care of the drinks. After going through the menu, she suggested bringing another dish. In that moment, I saw that it was important to her to feel that she was contributing her share, and a little more.

It's simplistic to cut the world into dichotomies, but perhaps we can. Our planet spins, and we are either in daylight or night, but those conditions constantly are changing, going from darkness to dawn, to noon, to dusk, and night again.

The world is full of givers and takers. We should be both. When we can give, we should. In order for others to contribute, we also should learn how to receive.

With our adult hustle and bustle we can become so caught up in giving to our children that we become blind and insensitive to their willingness to contribute to the well being of the group.

Our children are standing there, wanting to bring something to the picnic of life, wanting to share with those people who care about them.

We hurry on past our children in our pursuit to "get things done." It's easier to do it all ourselves than to show, guide, correct and be friendly with error if a task is forgotten or not done to our standards.

Doing tasks that contribute to the well being of their family makes children shine. Children with guidance become givers, and thus like day changing into night and back again, learn how to also graciously receive their gifts as they learn to give.

We all have something to bring to the table. The three-year-old can set the table with placemats, napkins, silverware and plates, and create a centerpiece of fruit or flowers. Young children are capable of doing cooking and cleaning tasks when shown how to do so and given child-sized tools.

One reason I love to cook with children is the joy they express when the bread they've made, the butter they've shaken in a jar, and the vegetables they've cut are served and eaten at the table with the people they love.

The deep satisfaction of contribution makes us appreciative of all that we've been given.

The world is full of givers and takers. We should be both.

It is more blessed to give than to receive. We should teach our children to give, and ourselves to generously receive those gifts.

Next Week: Hungry Planet

Kids Talk TM is a column dealing with early childhood development issues written by Maren Stark Schmidt. Ms. Schmidt founded a Montessori school and holds a Masters of Education from Loyola College in Maryland. She has over twenty-five years experience working with young children and holds teaching credentials from the Association Montessori Internationale. Contact her at Maren@KidsTalkNews.com. Copyright 2008.

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