yeah, I feed my 3-year-old, so what?
Today I got an email from M’s teacher, saying that when my mom picked her up from lunch yesterday, M asked my mom to feed her and she did. The teacher seemed alarmed or dismayed or some other strong emotion, because I guess Montessori is all about fostering independence.
Here’s the thing: I feed M all the time. She asks or sometimes I offer. She likes being fed but she is also capable of feeding herself with or without utensils, and more often or not she does. I liken it to me saying something like, “Will you hold this door open for me?” or “Will you hand me my cup of water?” Can I do those things for myself? Yes, I can. Does asking someone to do me a small favor to make my life a bit easier in the moment mean that I will lose my ability to be independent? NO! How ridiculous is that??? So when my daughter requests that I do something for her, because it makes her feel loved and taken care of, I often choose to do it happily, because I enjoy doing nice things for her. And it teaches her, in turn, that doing nice things for people you love, even when they can do it themselves, makes you feel good and is something culturally acceptable and valuable.
Am I going to bring this up with the teacher? Probably not. I asked my mom to please not feed M at school because that is the teacher’s lunch time rule. We have to respect the rules of the places we are in if we want to stay there, even if we don’t agree. (Or we can choose to try to change them or we can leave, but I don’t think this is an issue that warrants that.) So if she asks at school, we will say something like, “The rule here is that everyone must feed themself. I love you and would like to do something nice for you after lunch, but we have to follow the rule while we eat at school.”
Does every little thing have to become an issue??
I did bring it up with the teacher. Here is my email:
I spoke to my mom and asked her to please respect your lunch and snack rules that a child must feed herself. I do want to let you know, however, that we sometimes feed M***** at home when she asks. The reason for this is not because we don’t think she can do it for herself, nor do I feel that she asks because she is lazy or doesn’t feel that she is capable of eating on her own. Most of the time, not only does she feed herself with or without utensils depending on the food type, but she also prepares her own plate, serves herself, and even washes her own plate in the sink. Independence has never been a problem for her! (She is even diaper free at night now, because she requested it and chose not to drink full cups of water at bedtime and use the toilet right before sleep, because she herself did not want to wear pull-ups, completely her own initiative.) I set up everything where she can reach it (plates, cups, and utensils in a drawer she can access, toothbrush and paste and soap where she can easily reach it, stepping stools, shelves, etc all where she can access them on her own).