A brief story from something I had the opportunity to witness a few days ago…
Going to the grocery store is always a family event. My husband, son, and I often times go together, so that we can pick out exactly what we want and discuss our meal plans for the upcoming week.
Per our usual Sunday afternoon activity, we visited our local Krogers to stock up for the week. There was another family who kept arriving at the same isles we went to, almost as if we had the same shopping list. They had a small boy with them, probably only about 4 years old. He had a child-sized grocery cart that he was pushing alongside his parents, which was surprisingly very full. Of course, the Montessorian mommy in me immediately noticed his independence, and thought how precious it was to see his desire to help his parents shop. My husband, poor guy, made the comment, “Wow, they actually make their child push a heavy cart like that?”, which of course led me to an in-depth conversation about the importance of what he was doing, and how it represents the beauty of a Montessori child.
He wasn’t given a grocery cart as a form of distraction, or something to keep him occupied while mom and dad shopped. He was genuinely needed, and given valuable items to be responsible for. I actually witnessed him grab eggs from the refrigerator, and carefully place them in the correct place in the cart, careful to not let them touch anything else. Amongst many things, he also had a few loafs of bread, tomatoes, and cookies; items that could’ve easily been bruised or broken if not handled correctly. His parents trusted him to carefully handle each item of food, and asked him to pick the food off of the shelf. He was given the opportunity to help, and not punished for picking up something too fast, or not picking out the right brand. His parents respected his work, and relied on him to help carry the food that they needed, despite his young age.