The Broccoli Challenge
Dianne Petersen, Program Manager
Every day, I look at the faces of the children who stay with us at Kids Kottage. The thing that impresses me most about their responses when I talk with them is that they know at Kids Kottage they are cared for. They know that the Kottage is a safe place to be and the staff members are helping them get dressed, talking through the fact that mommy or daddy or grandma or grandpa or whichever form their caregiver takes has left for a while and – most importantly – staff members are playing with them. The children are not articulating all this in words, but it is unmistakably present in the look on their faces, once they have settled in, which takes no time at all. Those expressions speak volumes saying something like, “I am happy to be here,” and “I am secure in the knowledge that the troubles of the world are outside of these walls.”
As I write, I have just come from sitting with the children while they ate their supper. Broccoli was on the menu, together with chicken and potatoes.
“Oh, no! Not broccoli,” you say! Yes, indeed broccoli! But how many of you had the thought of broccoli go through your mind as a challenge as I mentioned it? I’m guessing a few!
However, not one of the children around the table today, ranging from eighteen months to nine years, had a problem with the green trees. On the contrary, as they ate, they were engaged in a little bit of role playing of a time when the earth was cooling and the dinosaurs roamed, chopping down the green stuff and eating all the vegetation in sight ….. well, chomping, at least.
I have a hard time believing any one of you reading this blog wouldn’t have smiles on your faces too, if you had been around the table, watching the antics of such happy children.
What is truly amazing here at Kids Kottage at any mealtime is that there are rarely picky eaters, seldom any overly tired bodies, certainly no little ones excluded from the conversation and hardly any children anxious to get away from the table to go do something else. They are fully engaged in this routine mealtime part of the Kids Kottage day that occurs three times a day, provided by a fabulous cook and supported by staff who intuitively know how to make a mealtime (and the rest of the day) so successful for each and every little one.
To all parents who make use of Kids Kottage, you are doing things right to be concerned about the wellbeing of your children. You are showing the Edmonton community that asking for help is a sign of strength. The children also know that, even if they are unable to find the words to express their contentment and feelings when they are here. But I truly believe the fact that no broccoli remained at the end of supper time today must be testimony to a sense of contentment that transcends any worries of the world; I know such contentment will go with them as they build an understanding of something called ‘resilience’ in a world of more broccoli challenges.