Saturday, 20 September 2014

Life's little surprises

For quite some time - two years, in fact - I feared that son S might be the type of child who simply does not like school. At all. He was always telling me how he didn't enjoy going, how he disliked all the cutting and pasting, and how he longed for school days to end so that he could go home to play. The prospect of a full day of school ahead would have him sighing and moaning. There would be a look of disappointment followed by a scowl: "Oh no, you are kidding, aren't you, mama; I don't really have to go to school all day today, do I?" And when, at the end of the afternoon, I would ask him what he'd done that day, his answer would invariably be one of two things: "I can't remember," or: "Nothing." Despite all this, he assured me he really liked his teachers and classmates. He just didn't like the work. 

This worried me. A lot. Particularly during summer, when the concern of his return to school would always be lurking in a corner of my mind. Particularly since he would be starting groep drie (group three) - the first 'real' primary school year, requiring children to knuckle down to some serious work learning reading, writing, and arithmetic. It is also the first time children are required to sit at their own table in formal rows, instead of in an informal semi-circle as they do in the first two years. 

But life is full of surprises, isn't it? When, on the first day back, I picked him up - with bated breath, may I add - he approached me with a grin from ear to ear. He told me the day had been FANTASTIC. That he was relieved about the class having to sit in rows ("We all have to work quietly, isn't that great!"), that he was delighted to have his own desk, with his own trays to put his own stuff into, and how they were finally going to be doing the really important stuff: learning letters, adding and subtracting, and lessons about nature too, yippee! 

I cannot tell you how flabbergasted I was. It was so contrary to anything I had expected. I had even spent time looking at another (less traditional) school system, one I felt might suit him better. How wrong I was! It just goes to show how we often waste our energy with unnecessary worry, instead of trusting that life will work out and point the way somehow. Much to my delight his enthusiasm has continued to grow over the past three weeks, and he is always bubbling to tell me of the new things he has learnt on any given day. 

And all I can say is:  I stand in grateful amazement.

                                                                                                                     ------------------------------------

By now you know that I'm unlikely to leave you without a recipe. This time it's an easy one for biscotti. You're probably familiar with them: those lovely, crunchy Italian biscuits good for dunking into hot drinks.  S loves them. And so he got one a couple of times in his snack box this week.




Almond Biscotti
adapted from Baking: From My Home to Yours, by Dorie Greenspan

250g spelt flour
1,5 teaspoons baking powder
100g raw cane sugar
100g almond meal
4 eggs, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon almond extract

  • preheat the oven 160 degrees Celsius
  • line a baking tray with baking paper
  • place flour, baking powder, sugar, and almonds in a bowl; whisk to combine
  • add almond extract to the eggs; 
  • combine wet and dry with a spatula to form a sticky dough
  • divide the mixture into two halves; form two loaves on the baking tray, leaving some space between them
  • bake for 35 minutes; remove from oven and onto a rack; allow to cool completely
  • when cooled, use a serrated bread knife to cut the loaves into slices
  • in a reheated 160 degree oven, bake slices for another 15 minutes on each side to produce crispy biscuits

33 comments:

  1. Hi Isabelle, just catching up now I am back, I have been reading, just not commenting. I am so glad that things have worked out well for your son this school year, it sounds almost as though he was craving more structure where I imagine you were thinking that he perhaps needed less. At least it has all come good this year!! xx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for your thoughtful comments, Amy; you've completely hit the nail on the head. I thought he needed less structure, when in fact he needed more!

      Delete
  2. I love this story. I think you are so right that we often worry about things unnecessarily, at least I know I do. I was the same way when my toddler daughter didn't want to eat much of anything for a while - of course now she eats lots. And I know these potential worries will only increase as she gets older, so this is such a good lesson. It's one I have to keep reminding myself of time and time again!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Welcome, Isabelle! I always seem to fall into the worry trap, despite the fact that I know most things work themselves out. It's quite a comfort to know we can't be of influence on everything!

      Delete
  3. Children do like a structure, don't they? What a relief for you to know he is happy now at school, and is doing the 'really important' activities he obviously craved! X

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's an incredible relief, Penny. Hadn't realised just how much it had been weighing on my mind until he started enjoying himself!

      Delete
  4. Zo zie je maar : kinderen blijven verbazen... Je zal nog veel verrassingen krijgen in de jaren dat ze opgroeien !

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Je hebt helemaal gelijk, Ingrid - er zullen nog heel veel verrassingen volgen. Ik denk dat het de kunst is om op een ontspannen manier te doen wat je kunt en verder op het leven vertrouwen. Eigenlijk is het ongelooflijk hoe veel dingen uiteindelijk vanzelf goed komen!

      Delete
  5. I think it's a boy thing, my DS was exactly the same. He's 18 at the end of the week and I still have to drag information from him x

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, girls are certainly more informative than boys - my daughter just WON'T STOP telling me about her day, haha! :-)

      Delete
  6. I am so pleased for you both that school is now a pleasure for him. All children are different, he sounds like he likes the structure and the challenge of learning. I have a feeling our grandson will be the same.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, I agree, Chickpea. I think the challenge of learning is doing him a lot of good and boosting his confidence. It's a wonderful thing to witness.

      Delete
  7. Some children are just happier and more comfortable in a more structured environment with clear routines rather than the "unpredictability" (for them) of less traditional school systems. All my three have been like that...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Welcome, Sandra! My son has now said he didn't like the noise and unpredictability of the lower classes. He enjoys knowing exactly what is expected of him, and being able to do the work in a quiet environment.

      Delete
  8. Your son sounds like me, I like things organized, having my own things and working in a quiet atmosphere. Glad he's found his niche.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. And funnily enough it's exactly the way I am too. I love having my own desk with my own things and my own tasks.

      Delete
  9. That's really interesting about the schooling. I feel we put our littlies in to structured learning far too young in the UK, but it sounds like your lad has benefited from having more structure. I guess everyone is different. I am very pleased for you that he is happy- it makes it so much easier for mums let alone smalls! x

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I would normally whole-heartedly agree with you. I had considered putting him through the Montessori system, or something similar, because I felt we ask too much of children when they are required to sit at their desk and work for much of the day. But indeed it looks as if S is really benefiting from it, so I've thrown that idea overboard!

      Delete
  10. All that worrying for nothing - so glad he has settled in well it can make such a difference being happy at school. The biscotti look amazing - I can hear the crunch from here. Have a great week.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Elaine, I love your new photo!
      This biscotti is super crunchy - just he way I like them. Have a great week too :-)

      Delete
  11. What a relief that he is happy at school - it was lovely to hear my 11 year old tell me recently what a wonderful year he's had after a change of school at the start of this year. It's been a huge move and enormous commitment from us so it's great to know it's all been worthwhile!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I imagine a change of school is pretty stressful for a parent; you so want your child to be happy. I'm curious to know why he changed schools. Was it a necessary move from primary to intermediate, or was he not enjoying himself at his previous school?

      Delete
  12. It must be such a relief Isabelle. Aren't children funny creatures. My eldest loved the structure of 'proper school' as he used to call it. He liked the formality of it, and knowing what was expected of him. He also thrived on formal learning too. I suspect your son may be the same. I haven't made biscotti for the longest time, so thank you for reminding me. They will make a change from flap jacks in the biscuit barrel.
    Have a lovely week,
    Leanne xx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for your lovely comment, Leanne. I very much suspect my son is like your eldest - and it's a bit of a relief, really! As I mentioned somewhere above - we so want our children to be happy!

      Biscotti is lovely and so easy to make. They just don't last long in this house :-)

      Delete
  13. What a relief for you. I don't think we would all be good mothers if we didn't worry about our children especially when they are not happy. You are right that we need not worry but I suspect we all find it difficult no to ;)

    Your recipes are always wonderful I have never made biscotti but I think they would go down well in this house and I have a bag of spelt flour that could do with being used............thank you!

    ReplyDelete
  14. so glad he's settled in and is loving the new term. x

    ReplyDelete
  15. How wonderful! I'm so glad he's doing well and enjoying himself. It really does warm a mother's heart to know her child is happy.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Totally agree. In fact, I would say my children's happiness is on top of the list of things that make ME happy!

      Delete
  16. I am so glad your wee man is enjoying school now. It is so important that they like going to school, it is such a big part of their young lives. I have four children, all with different school likes and dislikes! I am very glad that my third one, James, is now more happy at school, too. His confidence was knocked last year, when one of his job share teacher went on long term sick leave, to be replaced by a seemingly random stream of supply teachers. I think he missed the routine and clear structure. I am making biscotti this afternoon, I have a recipe that I love with lots of nuts and dried fruit. I'll post the recipe if I have time. Cx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh isn't it a pity when a beloved teacher leaves. Children need to bond with a teacher, I think, and know exactly what is expected of them.

      Enjoy your baking :-)

      Delete
  17. Finally catching up here ... some kids are ready for 'proper' school much earlier than others and it sounds like he was one of them, so glad to read your worries were unfounded x

    ReplyDelete
  18. I'm so pleased he's enjoying school more. It takes up so much time that it needs to be 'right'! Those biscotti look fan and are on the to bake list (I'm getting a new notebook for the ever growing 'to bake' list!!!

    ReplyDelete

Thanks so much for taking the time to visit. I love reading your comments so please feel free to leave one (or more, if the mood so takes you) in English and/or in Dutch.