William Made a Sandwich

A combination of factors went into William reaching a milestone yesterday-- he made his own sandwich!

First of all, the idea must've entered my subconscious a few days ago, when a post about self-sufficiency in children made the rounds on Facebook. One of the items was the idea that kids were old enough to pack their own lunches by age 5. Secondly, we had sandwich ingredients in the house, so it was possible. Thirdly, W wasn't interested in eating either the lunch that I had prepared or leftovers, his usual options since I generally don't take special requests unless they are made before I start preparing something else.

Despite being "not hungry for YOUR food", W was whining about his hunger, so I asked him what he thought he would eat for lunch since he rejected my options. His first many ideas were vetoed. Things like, "I could eat marshmallows!" Et al. But then when he said, "what about a ham sandwich with mustard?" I remembered that we had both sliced bread and deli meat, and it was a reasonable thing to eat for lunch, so I surprised him by saying he could eat a ham sandwich if he made it himself.

W scowled and asked, "But am I old enough to make a sandwich by myself? Will I get hurt if I try to do it by myself?" I stifled a laugh at the thought of hurting yourself making a sandwich, but it could easily be an idea he picked up from his father given T's reluctance to make any food for himself, sandwiches included. I told W I would teach him how to make a sandwich safely this time, and it the future he could do it all on his own.

He was able to get the bread from the freezer and the ham and mustard from the fridge. He plugged in the toaster, and put the bread in the slots. He did need help pushing down the lever, our toaster is over ten years old, if that is the only thing standing in the way of W making his own lunch, I might spring for a new toaster with a less-sticky lever. He was able to take out the toast without burning his fingers on the hot metal. I showed him the appropriate amount of mustard to use, he was able to control the amount coming out of the tube surprisingly well, and he spread it with a knife. I usually am lazy and just spread it around with a piece of meat, but I figured I should teach him a more civilized way. Then he chose to use three pieces of ham (I gave him the option of two slices if he was "regular hungry" or three slices if he was very hungry) and lined them up and folded the edges to make them fit on the bread, I didn't explain this, but he must have been watching me make sandwiches in the past since it was exactly like I do it. Then I let him use the big knife to cut the sandwich. That part I'm not sure he's ready to do without supervision. He wasn't able to quickly and easily cut the sandwiches like I do, I'm not sure if he lacks the upper body strength or if I just have some sort of knife skills that I have had for so long I don't even realize it must be taught. But he's a cautious boy, I think I can start to teach him to use a chef's knife under supervision. He was very conscientious about unplugging the toaster after he finished with it. I think he would be equally conscientious about not chopping his fingers off with a big knife. But I will supervise him closely until I am SURE of it.

And then he moved the sandwich pieces from the cutting board to a plate and ate them all up. I think the next step might be peanut butter sandwiches, since he asks for them often but I really can't be bothered making both sandwiches AND salads, so I usually just make salads. But if HE made the sandwich, then he and M could share one and still eat the salads I make. And they would be introduced the concept of the half-sandwich and salad for lunch, which is a healthier option than just a sandwich and a good habit to grow up with.