B is 4 ½ now and quite independent. He does have some responsibilities around meal time like emptying any leftover food off of his plate (yes, a couple of times the plate has fallen in – after having to retrieve it out of the “muck” a couple of times, he quickly learned to hang on tight). Once he is done this, he puts his plate and utensils in the dishwasher.
Up until now, we’ve been reminding him to ask nicely for what he would like i.e. “May I please have a glass of juice?” rather than “I’m thirsty” or “can I have a drink?”. If he starts with the latter examples then we usually respond with “pardon me” or “what’s that?” to which he responds with the appropriate more polite line. For the most part, all of his requests these days are polite. However, at this point, the demands sometime wear on me. Some of these demands include: preparing a snack or drink, putting a movie on, getting out his art supplies, and so on.
So on the weekend when he asked for a jam sandwich, I told him he could make his own. I got the bread, jam, and butter knife (yes I said knife) out for him, along with a plate and away he went happily jamming his slice of bread. Despite having a little more jam on the bread than what I would find to be appealing, there was no damage done and no mess left behind. Even better, he was so proud of himself and actually enjoyed making the food for himself. Hmph.. wonder how many jam sandwiches I made for him when he was perfectly capable of making his own.
The next night, DH and I were sitting on the couch and he came in the living room and, again, asked for a jam sandwich. This time I told him he could go and get the fixings and make it himself. I fully expected to hear him ask for help to get something but he didn’t. After some rustling in the kitchen he came back into the living room with his piece of bread which was loaded with jam and had some goldfish crackers scattered atop. DH was impressed. However, more critical than I, he remarked – “Yes, but did you clean up after yourself?” Without hesitation, B proclaimed that he had. He told us that he had put the bread away, and put the jam in the fridge, and put the knife in the dishwasher. Sure enough, he had!
Rest assured this little boy is well on his way to being able to feed himself when he leaves home. I actually had a roommate in university that couldn’t even make a pot of Kraft Dinner since they never had to prepare a meal at home.