Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Play Outside!!!!!!!!! Turning a mistake into a time to learn aka the time I didn't lose my cool

On Thursday, I was hauling our big tomato plants from the family room out to the deck for their time in the above 50 degree sunshine, since we live in a place that requires we baby our tomato plants more than our toddlers. I'm kind of joking, but with the incredibly short growing season and the hail, the elk and the rocky soil, I'm also kind of serious. Anyway, I was dealing with tomato plants when I heard, "uhhh. I just wrote on our dry erase board with Sharpie."

Background: Each day in the summer I make a list of the things the kids need to do before they can play outside. It's stuff like chores, math, instrument practice, and writing. Elliot asked if he could add play outside to the end of the list, and I happily obliged because more handwriting practice is A-OK in my book.

I replied, while holding my big tub o' tomato plants, "you're kidding, right?" As you can guess, he wasn't kidding. I headed toward our dining room/school room expecting to see Play Outside written in nice normal-sized letters. That did not happen.

Play Outside!!!!!!!! was written in bright pink sharpie on our gigantic dry erase board that a friend sold to me for $20 and we love to use for our homeschooling.

We immediately thought it was ruined, which seriously bummed all of us out. Elliot felt terrible. We tried wet paper towel and a magic eraser while Audrey asked Monsieur Google for ideas. As our attempts failed, Elliot felt worse. To get him giggling, I complimented him on his nice penmanship, on the proper use of a capital letter to begin the sentence, and on his very excitable use of many exclamation points. We talked about sentence type, exclamatory and imperative with the implied you as the subject, to get him thinking about things he'll study in Essentials next year.

By this time, Google had advised that we take a dry erase marker and go over the sharpie in thick strokes, erasing while still wet. We gave it a whirl. All hands were on deck to copy over the letters. This was great fine motor practice for my littlest guy and the original sharpie use.

Each pass of the dry erase marker and eraser improved the board slightly, so we were actually hopeful this thing was salvageable. About 30 minutes later, and all that was left was a slight pink tinge covering most of the board, but it definitely lived to see another homeschool lesson.

This was an honest mistake. In the hustle and bustle of the day, I know that I roll my eyes too often or breathe deep, annoyed, huffing breaths too often. It was probably my first inclination on this day, too. But I didn't, and I'm so thankful for that. Some nights, after the kids are tucked in and I'm reading a book in bed, I look back on the day and realize I expected perfection in situations where kids were just being kids. How irrational is that?! I'm sitting here racking my brain for a single day in my many years of life where I have lived perfectly, and I'm coming up empty. Mistakes happen. People mess up. We hurt each other. We act in ways we shouldn't. We are impulsive. In short, we are humans. As parents, we expect our kids to do their best, but we also tend to forget that they are little humans traversing a big world with lots of rules and expectations and that they will falter just as we do.

I'm reading a book called Give Them Grace: Dazzling Your Kids with the Love of Jesus. How about this quote? "Pure, unadulterated, consistent love for God and pure, unadulterated, consistent love for others is the summation of all the law God has given us in both the Old and New Testaments. Of course, the problem is that we never obey these simple commands. . . .Even though our children cannot and will not obey God's law, we need to teach it to them again and again. And when they tell us that they can't love God or others in this way, we are not to argue with them. We are to agree with them and tell them of their need for a Savior."

I often point to my child's behavior instead of pointing to our (our meaning the kids AND the grown ups in the family!) need for a Savior. It's a huge distinction. And maybe it's a bit of a stretch to go from sharpie on the dry erase board to forgiveness of sins, but seeing that slightly pink dry erase board serves as a nice little reminder of the day I kept my cool, saw a mistake for a mistake, and loved my kid through it. 

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