According to this news report, when it comes to toddlers, messier eaters make better learners and make better sense of their world than tidier toddlers do.
Katie is seven and she's still a messy eater. She must be a freakin genius.
No, seriously, I'm way less concerned about Katie's messy eating habits than I was before Katie and I discovered the wonderful book, Leo the Late Bloomer by Robert Kraus. Now whenever I look at Katie covered in food goo, instead of nagging her once again to use her napkin and utensils, I remind myself of the wonderful story, about a tiger cub whose father worries that he's not keeping up with his peers on all sorts of developmental milestones, but the cub's mother lets him be and tells the father that he'll bloom in his own time. This compassionate story helps me understand that my child will learn whatever she needs to know in her own time. If I model good dining ettique, eventually Katie will catch on and quit trying to eat oatmeal with her hands.
Or, maybe I could learn a thing or two by emulating my daughter. I sure do love Ethiopian food. I thought it was the spices, but maybe it's the act of eating with my hands triggering something different in my brain that I like. Maybe I'm the one who should start eating with my hands instead of nagging Katie to stop eating with hers. I wonder if this messy learning works on adults?
I know something that works on both children and adults. Reading together. It's one of the best things you can do for each other. Check out Leo the Late Bloomer from your local library. Or, it'd make a great holiday gift for anyone with a child of lap-sitting age.