My husband & I want our children to grow up with the confidence that they can do hard things. The trouble with that parenting value is that it generally means many difficult things have to be tackled along the way. My husband is far more patient when it comes to these types of lessons than I am. As a matter of fact, because he is a very intentional man, he orchestrates outings just for the purpose of challenging the children.
I am such a proponent in theory--but real life means I don't get to simply watch from the sidelines. I must endure the challenge, while trying to be a role model with a good attitude and minimal griping.
A couple of weekends ago we attempted a family mountain biking trek. We rode our bikes from our house to a trail a couple of miles away. With a fair bit of internal dread and external sighs, I joined my husband and the kids on a trail with steep hills, rocks and roots. Activities that likely lead to crashes and bodily harm are not really my 'thing.'
The trail was intimidating. There was whining. There were tears. There were wrecks. At one point, even I hit a slippery patch of mud and completely flipped my bike.
"Why are we doing this again?" I quipped.
"Because tackling a challenge is good for them," my husband replied.
And he was right. When we finished the ride, we were tired and dirty--but there was laughter, satisfaction and the rush of conquering fear.
I wonder if our kids are really putting these lessons together--or if we are simply making ourselves feel better as parents. Occasionally, there is a glimpse that truths are sticking to little hearts.
Last night P was trying to pour a glass of milk from a heavy, full gallon jug. Predictably, as he was forced to use both hands to steady the jug, the cup tipped over and milk went everywhere. From the large puddle on the counter top, it trickled down the front of the cabinets and inside to coat the contents of an open drawer.
My sensitive P started crying when he reached the paper towel holder and found it empty. I groaned internally--wishing I had simply poured it for him. I know an almost 9 year old should be capable of pouring his own milk, but serving him is easier than always cleaning up behind him (and comforting him while teaching him how to appropriately clean.) I made a mental note of my thought process.
From his spot at the kitchen island my R mused, "Life sure is messy sometimes."
"Yes, it is." I agreed.
From the mistake of one son and the mouth of another--I was reminded that it is the seemingly small decisions in parenthood that add up to the training. The point of childhood is not for everything to be clean and orderly (although that does have a positive effect on my sanity). This is a life skills lab. Lessons are being learned through trial and error. As R observed, it gets messy.
But THIS is how we grow--not from being bubble wrapped and served--but by taking risks and trying. This means failure, crashes, dirty clothes and spilled milk, but it also means budding confidence, independence and maturity.
Meanwhile this Mama plans to keep praying for proper perspective and a better attitude--and buying household cleaning supplies in bulk.