What Would Chile Do?

Depending on how old the children in your life are, you may not have heard of the sensational kids show, Bluey. It is an Australian show that Disney has picked up and it is, in a word, phenomenal.

Bluey is approximately 6 years old and is, coincidentally, a blue dog. She has a little sister named Bingo, age 4, and parents, mom Chile and dad Bandit. The foursome make up the core cast of the shows which run only 7-10 minutes.

I love this show for many reasons. The music is great, the messages of each episode are excellent, and the show is intentional about speaking to both its young and adult audience.

For example, a favorite episode in our house is called, “Grannies.” Bingo and Bluey are pretending to be grannies (little kid Australian accents while pretending to be old ladies is hysterical!). Bingo keeps doing the floss dance and Bluey insists grannies can’t floss. Eventually, Bingo becomes tired of being told she is wrong and stops playing. Bluey can’t understand why. She’s right after all. They even FaceTimed with their real Granny and she couldn’t do the dance.

Bluey asks her mom what to do and Chile asks a fantastic question back, “Do you want to be right, or do you want Bingo to play with you?” Such a deep question! Which is more important, harmony or winning the argument? Bluey decides on a 3rd option. She calls her granny back and teaches her how to do the dance. She shows Bingo that grannies actually CAN floss and Bingo decides to play again. Bluey sacrificed her original rightness and created a new situation where Bingo was right. Then they celebrated the change together.

Amazing! All in a 10 minute episode!

I could go on. What prompted this post, however, was a specific episode I watched with our little boys one day when I had a stomach bug and couldn’t do much that morning except sit and watch Bluey. The episode is called, “Neighbors.” Chile, the mom, comes into the living room looking for the couch cushions. Bluey has a number of them set up as a pretend house and asks if Chile want to play a game called Neighbors. In most kids tv shows, the mom would either immediately say Yes or No. “Yes, I am a perfect mom who can drop whatever I’m doing to play with you for hours on end.” Or “No, sorry kid, I’m doing whatever is more important and the lesson of this episode is to learn about imaginative or solo play.” Both overgeneralized statements but both things I’ve seen and felt as a viewing adult.

But not Chile. Chile says, “Umm.” Then she looks back to where she came from in a distinct moment of choice. Ultimately, she says yes. That pause is what caught me. The show provided all the adults in the room to watch another “adult” consider the choice in front of them and choose play. Each time my kids ask me to play, there’s a choice there. I can choose to continue what I was doing, or I can choose to join in their game. There are, of course, legitimate times when I do have to say no. But realistically, there are many times I could have said yes and didn’t.

Bluey has been challenging for me as a mom but in such a good way. It takes a light hearted approach to life while instilling good choices and behavior. It makes you stop and think, like the “Ice Cream” episode that causes everyone to wonder what fair actually is and what lengths are worth going to in order to ensure “fairness.” Or in “Take Away” when Bandit, the dad, doesn’t want the girls to get wet in an outdoor faucet while they wait for their take away (in the US we say take out). They have to wait longer than expected (so you can imagine there are antics and spills with the girls) and the owner brings out fortune cookies to apologize for the delay. Bandit’s fortune says, “A flower may bloom again but a person never has the chance to be young again.” Bandit then let’s the girls play as much as they want in the faucet because it’s just water, they will dry, and they will never have the chance to be young again.

Bluey fully embraces the little things in life and the little happinesses of children. The sheer joy a blanket tucked over your head as you make believe you’re a granny. The silliness of your dad-patient while you pretend to be a doctor. It’s not just about kids imagining but also about how their parents join in the play and fully embrace the game.

I could go on and on. From what we’ve watched, I highly recommend you take the time to watch a couple episodes, even if you don’t have kids. It’s that good. I didn’t even talk about “Camping” here but it might be my all-time favorite.

Lots of Bluey love in this house and lots of appreciation for the writers and creators who have made a show so thoughtful for its full range of viewers.

Daily Graces. kktaliaferro.wordpress.com

Choices, choices, choices

It was awful. Truly, I’m trying to come up with the best words to describe this particular trip to Target, but they are escaping me.

Ben had deployed a few days earlier. The same day he left, Rosie started running a fever and had a croupy cough. Within 2 days, John followed suite and was worse than Rosie. We were down to our last ounces of milk and there wasn’t any bread left in the freezer (I get a little twitchy when I don’t have back ups). We were low on snacks and had eaten the last apple the day before. Our base commissary only has food stuffs and I had a few other things I needed that were outside the realm of bread, milk and cheese. Also, due to the fevers and coughs, we had not driven anywhere for at least 3 days.

Rosie was over her fever. John was starting to feel better, and given the state of our pantry, it was time to get to the store. That morning, Clare, of course, chose to cut another tooth and was drooling worse than a dog over a fresh bone. I honestly didn’t know she was capable of that much, it was pretty crazy. Anyway, you probably don’t need more descriptions about that.

So, to Target we went. We had skyped with Ben earlier and I told him it was either going to be a really good trip or a really bad one, not a whole lot of room in between. It started out good. Clare slept some in the car and seemed happy. John and Rosie were doing well. All was good and I was confident. About halfway through, things weren’t so good. Clare was over being in the cart and Rosie was upset with the amount of stuff in her cart (we need two so I don’t lose anyone). After finally negotiating with Rosie, she ended up in a good place, thank goodness, because Clare did not. If you can imagine, I got us to check out in this fashion: Carrying Clare while pushing one cart with John in the seat and pulling another behind me with Rosie in the basket. Still not sure how that one worked out but we did it.

I was in a foul mood when we got home. Clare had screamed the whole way home and Rosie had fallen asleep before lunch and I was convinced she had ruined her real nap aka my super necessary break for the day. I had to get the kids in the house, the cold groceries put away and lunch on the table as quickly as possible. I was also very hungry since I had forgotten to bring a snack in the car – I get twitchy when I am nursing a baby and don’t eat often enough. So, quite a grouchy mamma.

Long story short, obviously everyone survived. Lunch was eaten, Clare got to sleep (much to her dismay) and I managed to eat some left over roasted potatoes and yogurt. Eclectic but delicious.

After such a long morning, I wasn’t exactly in the mood to cook dinner. I wrestled back and forth with cooking versus just going to Burger King on base. With John not feeling well and Rosie recovering, I knew that that fast food was probably not the best decision, but it was so tempting. It’s such an easy choice. No planning, no dirty dishes. Not necessarily cost effective but certainly convenient.

We all know this feeling. There is the choice that you know is right, and the choice that is easy. How many times do we choose the easy way and regret it later. Often the right choice is a bit harder, it takes longer and may require more effort. Now I don’t know what kind of evening we would have had if I had chosen the easy choice. Maybe it would have been delightful – John and Rosie love french fries and Clare probably would have gotten some more sleep in the car. Maybe it would have been horrible – John could have gotten sick later because of the greasy food and Clare could have screamed like she did earlier. I hope, and I believe, that whatever the outcome of the easy decision, the night we had because of the right decision was far better.

Roasted pork with fennel
Roasted pork with fennel

I decided to cook the pork tenderloin that I had gotten earlier that day. When I asked the kids if they wanted noodles or chips as a side (hoping that chips would be the answer since there was no effort involved – still trying to take the easy way even though I know better). Rosie, bless her my chip lover, said noodles. Even when I asked a second time, convinced she must not have heard her choices correctly, said noodles.

Noodles it was. If I was going to make noodles for the second night in a row, we weren’t going to just have buttered noodles again. John and Rosie have started helping me salt the water and enjoy helping in the kitchen. I decided it was time to try our hand at pesto. We have two basil plants in the backyard and I have been meaning to make a fresh batch

Ziti with fresh pesto
Ziti with fresh pesto

since receiving a food processor for Mother’s Day from Ben. I love how much John and Rosie like to help in the kitchen. They enjoy contributing and being a part of the action. As soon as I moved toward the back door with a measuring cup they were with me, ready to help pick basil leaves and make sure they all stayed in the cup. Then, they helped measure and pour pine nuts and garlic. Though the didn’t like how loud the food processor was, they did like helping to taste and mix.

After that, the night went well. I mean, John’s fever was the highest it had been thus far and Clare proceeded to scream at me until she finally fell asleep, poor thing, that tooth was a rough one. But my mood was so much better. I had accomplished something productive, a decent meal. I felt renewed from earlier in the day when I believed I was completely defeated. One right choice changed my whole day. It doesn’t matter that the kids were still difficult, my attitude made all the difference. I am so thankful that I listened to the right choice instead of the easy choice. Even though I don’t know how the easy choice would have ended, I’m confident it would not have been as good or fulfilling as the right choice.

Recipes for those interested

Pork: I sprinkled my pork tenderloin with salt, pepper, garlic powder and fennel seeds. I then cooked it for about 20 minutes a pound at 425 in a roasting pan. Roast until internal temperature reaches at least 150, between 30 and 40 minutes. Be sure to let it rest for at least 5 minutes to soak up the juices.

Pesto: I used a recipe from The Food Network but I halved it because I didn’t have enough basil for a whole recipe and since it was just the kids and I, we didn’t need as much. The recipe is here: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/food-network-kitchens/basil-pesto-recipe2.html. The kids chose to use ziti noodles because they liked how it sounded better then elbows.