What do you do when you are stuck alone with a young child, and your entire support system has vanished?
My husband was travelling, my mummy-buddies were in different cities, and my domestic helper was being, well, erratic. This meant that my son and I had the gloriously intense experience of being with each other through the day, every day for a little while.
Some time ago, I had read a manual for Montessori-style pre-schooling. It said that children often revel in the process, and place very little value by the end result. That means they can thoroughly enjoy ‘cleaning’ a room, even if it is much messier than they found it.
This made a LOT of sense (and is probably obvious to most people who spend time with young humans), and though I still end up asking him to adult-up (“You really need to wash your hand, even though playing with the towel, soap, taps and screws is fascinating”), this little nugget of wisdom helped me plan a treat.
We were going to have a zero-waste ice cream treat. My son was excited by the idea of bicycling to the shop, and asked me endless questions about
whether our local stray dog would come with us, whether it would get into fights with other dogs, was our stray hungry, will he need a drink of water…
I was answering the questions (a distracted rendition of, “Oh yes, definitely” works most of the time) and steering him towards the kitchen. We picked stainless steel spoons and bowls, wrapped them in a piece of cloth, and shoved them into my floppy can-accommodate-any-container-any-shape bag.
The ice cream store (that the stray accompanied us to, and yes, of course he got into fights enroute), I rushed to tell the server that we had brought our own cups. He seemed bemused and then shrugged. Took out two small scoops and plonked them into our davaras (small bowls). I felt about 16 feet tall when I fished out the spoons and said no to his pink-coloured plastic disposables.
Today I repeated the outing. Well because, who doesn’t want to bicycle to an ice cream store with an energetic toddler and dog? This time, the server didn’t even reach for his disposable stuff. I picked a delicious mango-flavoured ice cream for the kid, and he picked a venomous-looking blue thing for me that reminded me of Harpic (it was called Splish Splash. That did not help).
One quick rinse in the washbasin and we were ready to return home.
It took us two hours from start to finish, but hey, I can be a toddler sometimes and revel in the process too.
And that my friends, is how you pull off a zero-waste summer treat. Hopefully yours is free from Harpic flashbacks.
P.S. And this is what we avoided.