As regular readers of this blog know, lessons don’t always go according to plan — and that often, what the Lord has in mind is more effective than what I had written in my notebook. I’ve been trying to get Bugaboo to try assignments that challenge her, and that I’m pretty sure she’ll only get about half right, so that she will learn that there is merit in making mistakes and learning from the process of correcting her errors. She has a habit of getting a mulish little look on her face and saying she just can’t do it without help. Since we have four children, this is problematic, because I absolutely cannot sit right next to her for the entire duration of her academic work and hold her hand.
Yesterday, one of her assignments involved a page covered with bubbles, each of which contained a number. She was to color numbers 1-25 red, 26-50 orange, 51-75 yellow, and 76-100 blue. Since I was still in the middle of morning check-in calls when she got to that particular task, I helped her read the instructions and asked her to try her best to complete it. Fortunately, I received a welcome assist from Deedaw (with whom I was on the phone at the time), who told Bugaboo she was sure she could get at least half of them right. I have to remember that “I’m sure you’ll get at least half of them right” line — it erases the “not gonna” line that often furrows our eldest daughter’s brow!
As it happened, she didn’t quite get half of them right on the first try, but she did at least attempt every one, and she only used the four colors called for in the instructions. I went over the assignment with her and marked all the correct bubbles with little check marks (it’s a philosophical thing — I’d rather give her the visual reminder of what she’s done right than what she’s done wrong). Bugaboo promptly asked me to tell her the correct colors for the unmarked bubbles. I declined, but explained that I would give her some help. In the same math workbook, there is a grid with the numbers 1-100. After tabbing that page with a sticky note, I outlined the number groups with the appropriate colors, put another sticky note on the page with the bubbles, and showed her she could use the sticky note to quickly flip back and forth to check her answers.
The “not gonna” line started to darken Bugaboo’s forehead, so I paused in my instructions, knelt beside her chair, and asked her if she remembered the story of the prodigal son. She told me she did, and I asked her if the son had made mistakes. She said he had, and I asked her if he did his best to fix his mistake. She said he had. I explained to her that just as the errant son had to admit a big mistake and do what he could to fix it, we make little mistakes every day and do what we can to fix them. Bugaboo replied, “You mean like when you tried to slice the bread with a spoon and then had to go get a knife?”
I replied, “It’s exactly like that. And what I learned from that is that I need to watch what I’m doing when I put my hand in the silverware drawer.” With a little, “oh!” Bugaboo started flipping pages. I checked her for the first couple of corrections, then asked her to tell me when she had done two more, then three more, and before long, she had the whole thing fixed; we did a good amount of giggling along the way, and making fishy noises when she got one right (because Tot’s favorite thing to do is blow bubbles). We talked a little longer afterwards, and I’m optimistic that she got the point that every error we make is a gift, because it gives us the opportunity to grow in both knowledge and wisdom.
Baby Guy wore out just from watching his oldest sister’s hard work. Yes, this is a completely gratuitous photo of a sleeping baby.
Today’s prayer: Lord, Your apostle, Paul, exhorted the Colossians, “whatever your work is, put your heart into it as done for the Lord and not for human beings, knowing that the Lord will repay you by making you His heirs (Col 3:23-24).” Thank You for those apostles, who risked their earthly lives to make sure Your Good News would survive, for their hard work and their staunch faith. Thank You for the book of love letters you left for us, to encourage and instruct us, and for Your blessings, who listen to Your parables and draw wisdom from them. You instructed the little children to come to You, Lord, and when we read Your parables, we are drawing them near to You, for You are wiser than we. Help me raise children who, when faced with difficult or tedious tasks, joyfully dedicate their labors to You — and please, Lord, mold me into an example I’d want them to follow.