Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Summer, Strawberries, and Skill Building: Oh Let it Go Nan!

Our summer begins, as all our summers have since Jessie was born, with a trip to pick fresh local strawberries. We are lucky to be living in a city where you don’t have to even leave the city to find a pick-your-own field, and so it doesn’t require much planning. Only a thought, a friend or two, and free morning. The friend or two is the key to making it work, as Jess is not one to get too excited about manual labour, even if it is in a field and results in food.

Strawberries are best, of course, with shortcake and a liberal dose of whipped cream. When she was younger, we avoided the whipped cream, intent as we were on keeping her diet “healthy.” We used vanilla yogurt instead. That changed when she was around 6 years old (see journal entry from 1997!) and had lunch at her friend Maddie’s up the street. It was late June and the strawberries were just out. Georgia, the mom, presented the girls with a large bowl of strawberries and an equally large bowl of whipped cream. I don’t think Jessie had ever even seen the stuff before. She dipped her strawberry in, took one bite, looked at Georgia with her eyes wide in wonder and said “I’ve never tasted yogurt like THIS before! Can you tell my Mom where to get it?” That summer it was hard for me to keep Jessie away from Maddie’ house. She would sneak out of the house and arrive in their kitchen through the back door, asking for just a little bit of that special yogurt!

Late yesterday CG called with an invite to go strawberry picking. At least one of the girls (her daughters and Jessie’s best-est friends, Rachel and Rebecca) would be available to go, meaning that we could probably entice Jessie. The weather was perfect, not the usual sweltering heat in which we usually end up picking strawberries. There was a breeze, the field was almost empty of people, and we had row upon row of strawberries to choose from. Some even made it into Jessie’s basket.

Back at home, Jessie dutifully checked off her routine (a draft summer routine that we came up with before Dan left for Los Angeles for the week, in the hopes that Jessie and I would not argue the whole time he was gone over TV and the computer—this is the first year that Jessie has a kind of ad hoc schedule involving volunteer work, teaching, and just hanging out) of reading, chores, planning for time with friends, Facebook, checking her email, exercise, and working on her “dreams and goals.” Then told me that she absolutely needed and deserved TV. I began to argue, then dropped it. It IS the beginning of summer, and I need to let go of what I think she should be doing and allow her to decide, within the balance that we have set out for her.

I begin to prepare the strawberries and realize that this is something I should be teaching her. While I would like her to WANT to help me prepare strawberries, to want to learn to do it, I realize that I will have to let go of it … today. And for tomorrow, I will have to come up with a great enticement that will make her want to learn. Like making jam! With friends! Hmmmmm. I think I need to call CG and see what she and the girls have on later this week.
(Photos © 2010 Paper Clip Camera Cathy Gray)

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