I remember a day years ago when my oldest daughter had a friend over to play. It was hot outside and they wanted to go on the Slip-n-Slide and they were very excited.
I gave them an instruction as I finished up the dishes. “If you go out back and clean up Curly’s (our dog) poops I will set it up.”
My daughter moved towards the door to grab the small shovel and bucket for the job in an intentional way.
Her friend Sarah however had something on her mind.
“That’s your job.” she said to me.
I got closer to her and simply said “Actually it is my job is to teach my kids how to do everything they will need to do in their life, so that they will be able to take care of themselves one day.”
“Oh,” and she ran off to help with poop patrol. They were slipping and sliding in no time.
I had never quite put those words out there before. That was my goal. I didn’t want them to have to suffer with not knowing how to do things. Not knowing how to do their laundry when they went off to college. Not know how to cook. The lessons changed as they got older. From washing their hands and brushing their little tiny teeth to knowing how to figure out a budget when moving out. It’s all about filling up their individual toolboxes so they can fix whatever comes up.
Years ago when I was doing whatever I was doing, I would gather my daughters and say, “I am going to impart wisdom.” I never had to define the word impart nor was it a regular part of my vocabulary except at these moments. Sometimes it would be at a time of great importance but mostly it was when I was doing something mundane that I had figured out a trick to. Opening a new sugar bag over the sink helps contain the messy granules, etc. To this day as they are 22 and almost 19, they still gather around if I say “I am going to impart wisdom.” It makes me happy to see how independent and self sufficient they are. I feel comfort as I know they are walking out in the world making good choices.
From my tricks when they were little to get them to keep their coats on- ask them if they want to be silly, then put it on backwards and zip it up. They can’t get out, and they love being silly, to encouraging them to get dressed by putting their socks on my hands and saying “Is this right?” To which they would say no and then put the sock on their foot where it belongs. Silly Mommy. To the big stuff, how to get home when your friends are drunk and they were your ride. I am glad I made this my job.
Working parents carry so much guilt, they are away from their kids, they have to be in daycare, you name it, and sometimes they end up doing everything for their kids to make amends in their own heart. Yes, I totally understand. Guilt is a mighty large rock that hangs around your neck. However, the real noose is putting kids out there who don’t know how to do anything. That is hard on them.
So that is my thought today. It’s about filling your kids toolbox, with as many tools as you can. So they can make their way. And about the guilt, skip it and go teach your kid how to do something. And then they will also teach you.
I didn’t know there was a better way to peel an orange until my oldest taught me recently.