Letter: Little grocers in our midst | AspenTimes.com

Letter: Little grocers in our midst

The other day in the aisle of Clark’s Market in Snowmass Village, I stopped dead in my tracks and looked down. There, coming toward me at a deliberate pace, was a tiny girl pushing a tiny grocery cart. She must have been about 5 years old with thin blond air bouncing off her shoulders, stomping along in her snow boots. She was doing something purposeful. Of her own volition.

The cart had real groceries in it — carrots with big greens sticking out of a plastic bag, a bag of rice, a box of oatmeal packets. I just stood and stared and my heart filled with joy. See, I’m a Montessori teacher, and asking the world to welcome young people to join us in our daily work is a big thing for me — it’s what I do. This is how we help them to develop their budding independence, abilities and gain confidence. In the small school community where I work in Illinois, I see our students become capable, outgoing young adults, ready to join the workplace with passion and a great work ethic.

But in our American culture? It’s hard to convince people that children of all ages can — and in fact would like to — do things for themselves and contribute in small ways. I want to lift every screaming 2-year-old out of the strollers they are straining against and grab every pacifier out of their mouths. Little people need to be up on their feet, invited to practice speaking and walking and controlling their little selves from the very first years of their lives.

After my glimpse of this precious child in the grocery aisle, her mother came the other way and spoke to her in a foreign language. Ah! No wonder, I thought, she’s from a culture where this is an everyday occurrence. Nevertheless, bravo to the manager of that grocery store to be encouraging our young children to participate in a meaningful way. Hurray, Snowmass Village. I hope the trend spreads.

Paula Lillard Preschlack

Lake Forest, Illinois