Notes from JOY of PARENTING: An Experiential Workshop for Adults

 

“Kids in the Kitchen” Monday February 27, 2017 9:30-11:30 am

 Lilly Pilly Preschool Kitchen-Lobby 96 Kingsford Drive, Brunswick Heads

  • Make the ordinary extraordinary with ritual, story and song
  • Take home new tools for happy daily life: creative discipline
  • Mindful exploration of the beauty and mystery of foods.
  • Active wonder of physics & alchemy for adults and children

 Presented by educator Sandra Frain Living Loving Learning and Laughing too: Experiential Educational Programs for all ages.

Thank you all who came and thank you to Lilly Pilly Preschool for hosting our happy event. Here is a rough report of ‘what happened and how it happened’.

Ritual: Handwashing at sink (chair for children to stand on), water in basin and running water for rinse. Adult or children hands dipped into the warm water and Sandra sang: “Fish swim in the water, birds fly in the air. Let me take your hands now and dry them on the towel.” Parents encouraged to make up any song along with any activity.

Aprons, the uniform of the kitchen were donned.

Adults and children gathered around the big table that was loaded with many sizes and colours of pumpkins, and many other vegetables and fruits.

We ‘congealed’ by each adult introducing themselves by name and sharing what they love about being in the kitchen. My offering was that I love the alchemy and transformation of matter, and our very own character, meditate on our task or as we bubble and boil together socially. Some offerings were: loving all the mangoes currently in season; loving berry smoothie making in a purpose blender; loving being with children to cook; loving getting produce from the garden to cook; frightened of all the food issues and food as a result; resisting being in the kitchen and wanting to love it more and share that with children.

I promised a morning of balance of ‘in breathing’ and ‘out breathing’ as ‘Steiner Education’ models. Another imagination is, form and chaos and form again as creation of LIFE implies.

Some ‘out breathing’: some chaos ensued as we circled around the table, even hopping up to chairs, singing ‘around and around and around we go, where we go nobody knows and around and around and around we go.” This was a song I made up to go with peeling an orange in a spiral and of course it can be applied to any circular movement. We have much laughter as we circled around the table, passing each other’s chairs and trying to keep holding hands while moving, we twenty individuals.

As I held up the orange skin spiral we could marvel at being able to show children this ‘line’ made from a circle, that drapes into spiral form most naturally! Physics in Motion. Participants shared of their peeling apples as such by knife and by apple spiral machine.

Apples and cucumbers were passed around. Could ‘stars’ on the skins of the produce be seen? A reminder, that the stars and planets are shining day and night and helping to form our flowers and fruits. Satrs on the inside perhaps? Or a flower shape? Hmm. We smell the fruit and really feel it in our hands. Carefully passing it to a friend next to us. I spoke of the membrane of skin that covers our body and resembles the skin of an orange, or the covering of the ocean we see from the sky. There are so many analogies and this makes ‘food’ exciting to behold and have a natural reverence for.

A white 50-cent-size blob is passed around the circle. What can it be? One person knows: ‘a baby spider sac’. Sandra tells a story of its source: spotted as it was atop a pumpkin at the Carrera market in Tweed Heads from whence the pumpkins that each looked like a large cap, were purchased. That leads in to the story of the ‘caps for sale’ story to remind parents that children learn from imitation. (Monkeys stealing caps and then returning them to cap peddler when he throws his own cap on the ground).

Pumpkins were passed around and people asked to consider the weight and shape and ask the question “how did this grow? Once it was a seed beginning its life in the dark, then the light and by root and stem and leaf and then flower: Wowee!  A pumpkin strong and coloured and odd shape have we. A comment, “I just now get how it attaches to the flower before becoming fruit: calyx!”

Eggs on display on the table were fondled by passing children who remarked on how they loved holding warm eggs and referred to their own chooks. Children at the table were presented with a large glass bowl and a fork. Children crack each egg with adult assistance. “Let me help you, rather than let me do it for you”. Our aim is relaxation and happiness and a development of wonder for food substance and capabilities in the kitchen.

Here is an opportunity for children to see alchemy, as an egg is cracked, separated, and the white is beaten until bubbles appear and more and more frothy is it. Then they can beat the egg whites themselves, and all at the table participate! No resemblance is the final product to the original slimy translucent egg white. The golden suns are in their own bowl. Later, both are poured together into a fry pan for an omelette. Mmm.

Can our goal be ‘food on the table’ and ‘happy healthy process’ rather than ‘fear for perfection’. Each of us may enjoy or not enjoy particular foods. Let us respect each other’s tastes and learn the art of polite individualization. ‘That looks interesting, what might that be?’ rather than ‘YUCK’ as is a story from my sister’s family. Trying a wee bite is sufficient in the world of trying new foods. Can we support children learning intuitively what may be healthful for them? Many of we adults have damaged that inner sense of ‘knowing’.

Let us be wary of becoming narrsistic and encouraging that in our children. Let us balance that self -care with much community work by caring for others.

Pumpkins are chosen to carve, and children who want to help, have their hands around a knife, adult hand over child’s. It is important for children to learn the respect of these tools that do meaningful work. What a frustrating experience it is to try to use the knives and scissors are that are made for children’s autonomy but do not give satisfaction of cutting cleanly and effectively. Children do not want to cut themselves and do learn respect in knife and scissor handling if given the opportunity. A story of ‘a knife’ is told, exemplifying that children KNOW that there is ‘spirit in matter and matter in spirit’. Telling a story of a particular object or behaviour is a way of us teaching ‘respect’ to tools and all in life.

An adult shares her discomfort at holding the slimy innards that surround the pumpkin seeds. We discuss the value of ‘hands on’ to really experience sensory learning that affects our cognitive development in a way that merely hearing the worlds does not accomplish. Adults modelling tactile experience with food stuffs and nature, demonstrates a willingness the children may adopt and be all the healthier for it.

A jar of cream is passed around and we sing, “Come butter come, come butter come, if you don’t hurry your going to be late and I’m going to beat you to the garden gate”. And around and around the circle the jar goes, from one adult to one child shaking, as it goes. YES “voila’ the cream has separated and become a golden blob of rich butter, and the remaining milk is, delicious and sweet.

The group energy is now split as adults and children cut fruit and pumpkins and toast sourdough bread, and set the table for a colourful feast. The children are playing with a side board of grains too, pouring the rye and wheat from one source into empty vessels. Some parents and children go outside to forage for herbs for the baking pumpkin and seeds.

What a community event it feels. A sigh, as a beeswax candle is lit to the song: ” Candle light candle bright coming down to earth. Shining light on our table oh how beautiful and bright”.

Plates are laden with personal choices  as platters are passed around the table.

‘Merry’ is made, with chatter a plenty. More, more, more. ‘Let’s do it again’, they say.  And so our date is made for sourdough bread and cream cheese and butter making on March 13th Monday. As many ‘ooed and awed’ seeing the cream cheese and butter being made, and tasting the homemade wild yeast bread.

And the people disperse, and the people clear the table and wash and dry dishes. More community feeling being made. Leftovers going home with those who stayed to the very last moment.

THANK YOU!!!!

Respectfully reported, Sandra Frain

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