“Once you’ve drawn the space ships and the death star and the meteors, then you put your pencil on a ship and flick it with your finger. It makes a line and that is how you move.” Patch was intently describing the rules of a game which he plays with a friend at recess. Later that same day I sat and listened to Gleek describe the super volcano under Yellowstone National Park, why it is scary, but also why she is not worried. The actual content of these conversations is not particularly important, but the fact that we have them is critical. By listening to the minutiae, I am building in my children a belief that what matters to them also matters to me. At some point in the future a difficult conversation will be made easier by all the little conversations which came before.
Gleek’s doodle journal went missing this morning. She wanted to bring it to church. I helped her look, but was unable to locate it. I looked at my daughters sad face. Downstairs on my shipping table was a brand new sketch book. One of my small “make beautiful things” projects the week before had been to recover an ordinary sketch book and transfer the doodle journal logo to the front. I figured it was probably for Christmas along with the bound sketch book which Patch had been wanting for months. I told Gleek to wait and I grabbed both, handing a book to each child. Smiles burst forth on both faces. Sometimes solving today’s trouble is more important than future planning. These books were far more appreciated on this day than they ever would be in the midst of Christmas abundance.
Children are complete individuals, not just larval adults. So often I magnify current faults and project how they would play out disastrously in an adult context. This is a false fear. Far too much growth lies between here and there to be able to predict outcomes. It is much better to see my children as they are and discern what they need right now. Gleek quit piano lessons and along with them ditched a feeling of dismal failure. Kiki selected non-college prep accounting instead of a more academic math credit, because she can see uses for accounting skills in her imagined future. Next semester Link will be taking a debate class that he is certain to hate, because practicing presentation skills will be of immediate use in his life. Sometimes this focus on my kids as they are means I need to ask more of them, other times I must back off. Either way it reduces stress because of the immediacy of the requirements and the results. When I focus on who my kids are right now, I am much better able to see and trust in their strengths and virtues.