Usually I’m not too moved by the short news pieces posted by yahoo, but this one was so heartwarming; off the coast of Brazil beachgoers came upon about 30 dolphins that had been stranded due to a strong ocean current. Typically when man and animals interact the results are not good, but I love a good story about when people actually help creatures. In the video the dolphins clicks & squeeks are audible, presumably because they are distressed, but as an old professor once said, you don’t want to anthropomorphosize characteristic macrofauna – or in real world terms- don’t think of dolphins as people. The video goes on to show the beachgoers acting quickly and hauling the dolphins, often by grabbing their tails, and placing them back into deeper water. In some scenes it looks like a version of dolphin-shotput.
The dolphin rescue makes me think I would rescue a dolphin if I saw one just wash up on the beach, heck, I’d rescue anything if I were on a warm beach right now, but how do you teach your children that kind of empathy? I have mulling over the ideas of “good” and “decent” and “manners” for awhile now and feel that it is vitally important to pass those concepts on. I’m not just talking about the typical manners like saying “please” and “thank you” and don’t pick your nose, cover your mouth when you cough, type of manners. These are also important, but in addition to being told by parents kids will also pick up some of these manners from other kids. My daughter did not truly stop chewing with her mouth closed until my nephew kept reminding her of it- peer pressure at 4! No, I’ve been trying to think about the larger concepts of good, like recognizing decency and treating others with equality. Maybe it is because I just re-read A Wrinkle In Time by Madeline L’Engle. This past week was the book’s 50th anniversary and another homeschooling family just read it so it has been on my mind. It has been a really long time since I read it, but I was reminded that in the end it was Meg’s love that rescued her and her family from IT. Throughout the book are the themes that there is awfulness and evil in our world, but also there are good, decent, people, lovers of light who fight back against the darkness. I’d like to teach my kids that kind of lofty goodness, but how?
I recently finished reading a parenting book Bringing up Bebe by Pamela Druckerman comparing French and American parenting styles. I enjoyed a lot of the concepts in the book and will probably do a later post reviewing it more fully, but there is one concept that continues to stick with me. Ms. Druckerman recounts that the French hold four manners in their highest ideal; to say hello, good-bye, please and thank you. If your child does not use these four mannerisms, particularly hello and good-bye, they are considered to be poorly raised and will be shunned from play groups and snack time. The French believe that greeting someone is more than a polite how-de-do it is recognizing the humanity in the other person. It is acknowledging that individual as important and separate from the masses. This past week I’ve been trying that a little more with my kids, trying to prep them when we are going to be around adults they do not know by stressing the importance of saying hello. This past week was primary voting in Ohio and I’ve come to love the little group of four who manage our voting station. These four retired individuals are there for every voting round and have watched my kids grow up. This past week I prepared the kids by stressing how important it was to say “hello” and to look them in the eye. Well, you would have thought these four folks just got some special prize. They raved about how nice my kids were behaving! Later, one of the volunteers took the kids back to get some baked treats and they picked 3 things- a cookie and two different kinds of brownies. I told the kids they could eat one and save the rest for after dessert and, gosh almighty, they listened! And obeyed! I was about floored on that one as much as the volunteers and I have to say I really enjoyed their praise about what a good mother I was, but truly I think it was more that the kids wanted to go see the fish pond outside the voting station. From that experience it has cemented my belief that I want my kids to greet, respond to, acknowledge all people who may speak to them. My hope is that by implementing this as one of our family values it will give them an opportunity to learn about people and impart some of that natural empathy. Perhaps it is just high hopes. Or perhaps it is just observing and actually doing things for others that will teach them this empathy. And speaking of doing things for others, below is a recipe for Tofu Chocolate Mousse I’ll be making for my sister-in-law this weekend. She gave up dairy while nursing a new baby due to some related allergies, but still misses her sweet treats. This is a great recipe that is a wonderful creamy treat that you don’t even realize it is tofu!
Tofu Chocolate Mousse
• ¾ cup / 180 ml dark chocolate chips or dark chocolate bars, broken into pieces • 12 oz / 336 g silken tofu* at room temperature, drained • ½ cup / 120 ml warmed skim milk or soy, rice or almond milk • 1 tsp / 5 ml best-quality vanilla
*NOTE: You must use silken tofu for this recipe.
- Melt chocolate chips in a double boiler or in the microwave. Make sure to let the chocolate melt slowly. Stir until chocolate is uniformly smooth.
- In a food processor, combine tofu, melted chocolate, warmed milk and vanilla. Process until smooth. Place tofu mixture in fine-mesh strainer or sieve, pushing through with the back of a wooden spoon, into a medium decorative serving bowl. Serve from the bowl or ladle into individual serving bowls. Chill and serve.