Yesterday, my 4-year-old went into the kitchen, opened the refrigerator and selected a small milk carton. She then went to the cupboard, selected a straw and proceeded to climb into her seat and pour herself a glass of milk. I didn’t think too much of it at first, but I did stop for a moment to watch her happily drink her milk. She looked pretty satisfied with herself and her beverage.
Today at lunchtime, the importance of self-service became more apparent. Stella came into the kitchen with me, opened the refrigerator and started to pull food out to eat for lunch. Overall, her selection was pretty average – yogurt, milk, some leftovers. But, it was when she opened the fruit drawer and chose a pear, that I realized the benefit of her being able to literally select her meal.
Not only could she actually see the foods available to her and choose something based on appearance, versus having to connect the description of a particular food with an image in her head. But she now had some control over her life. I could see that for her it was liberating – not having to exactly depend on someone for a bite to eat (well, unless of course there was nothing in the fridge). For all intents and purposes, if she got hungry, she could simply go to the kitchen, open the refrigerator and pull out a snack.
I am thinking it is similar to the same feeling we had when we got our drivers license at sixteen or were officially an adult. The simple knowledge that you could get in your car and drive away if you were in an uncomfortable situation, rent your own place, get a job.
And while opening the refrigerator is a small step, it is important for self-confidence and self-reliance.
It is now my job to make sure the lower shelves have a good (and healthy) selection of food!