“Children like to learn all the courtesies of social life. If one teaches them, they are interested to know how to greet, how to excuse themselves when they pass in front of other people, etc.” ~ Maria Montessori, Citizen of the World

Because cookie baking had become a favorite activity of his, connecting it to the concept of “caring for others” felt like a nice extension. As a teachable moment, cookies are both fun to make and taste. And when made out of care and concern for someone in need, they are especially sweet!

Baking Cookies With Care … and Unprepared

After explaining the news of a neighbor’s foot injury, we agreed that it was the perfect time to bake blueberry cookies. I headed to my pantry cabinet to gather the necessary baking supplies. Hmmm…I was sure I had ALL the ingredients for the cookies. Sadly, I did not.

Time to Pivot

Quickly, I had to pivot in the moment while he stood next to me. As a substitute, I cheerfully described ‘Peanut Butter, Chocolate and Oatmeal No-Bake Cookies.’ Seemingly receptive to the change, he was excited to begin mixing. Soon, we had set out the ingredients on his table. After measuring together, he began pouring and mixing …

With each stir, he said, “Ew, I don’t like peanut butter. Daddy likes peanut butter.” Next, “Ew, no chocolate … vanilla.” …”Ew…Oatmeal.” Meanwhile, I responded by sharing the health benefits of oatmeal, dark chocolate, … Yes, this was not the cookie making experience I had imagined. Instead, it was the cookie activity I had not planned for—in every way.

Make Adjustments

Before long, I was back to pivoting. Obviously, he was disappointed with our oatmeal cookies. So I looked at him and said, “Would you like to make sugar cookies next?” He and I had successfully (and joyfully😉) made them in the past. “Yes!” was his quick reply. Fingers crossed, I had to find a recipe that included our available ingredients. Thankfully, I was able to find one.

In the end, we made snowflake sugar cookies and played fun children’s music in the background. Next, we created a card, filled a small box with cookies and tied a ribbon on it. For extra cheer, we included some holiday animal napkins.

Before walking next door to deliver the “C is For Care and Concern Cookies,” we put on our jackets and I texted our neighbor—certain she was home with her foot up…

No answer. (Sigh)

Real Life Moments—Repair, Prepare and Revisit

As soon as his mom arrived to pick him up, he burst into tears. With the best of intentions, I had set an expectation and was unable to deliver. How could I have been so ill-prepared? As a trained Montessori teacher, mother of three grown children, … All I could think was how did I let his happen?

Actually, this is Montessori at home. Home is not a classroom. Home is real life moments and situations. In the end, it was actually a really good day. And, thankfully, the tears lasted for only moments.

Looking back at our morning, he and I connected. We reviewed how our cookie care activity and talked about how the morning unfolded. Importantly, I apologized. Together, we made a new plan and time to deliver the cookies.

And Always Confirm  

With his own small box in hand, he and his mom left with cookies for his family. Waving, he had a big smile and a few new experiences in his heart. Among them, he had learned new lyrics to fun songs and how to make cookies because you care. And he is going to meet our neighbor next week—it’s been confirmed.

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