My 4 yr old taught me how to organize her clothes.
“Here Mommy. Skootch over and I’ll show you how to do it. I don’t really like it the way you are doing it.”
She likes her clothes hung up in order – short sleeves, long sleeves, jackets and sweaters, dress (by sleeve length), then skirts. She showed me how she like her leggings and underwear folded. And she folded all of her jammies herself because, “I like them just like this mom, and I can do it myself because I know how.”
Friends – this is not the first time we’ve had this conversation while putting away laundry. It’s just the first time I’ve actually listened and done it how she asked. Rather than my way – which is “For the love of all things, hang it up and be done with it.” I hate laundry. Organizing is NOT my strong suit but I do see value in it.
I also found value in listening to my child and respecting her need for organization. I can’t even tell you the number of times that she has told me, “Mommy, thank you for cleaning.” “Mommy, I really like it when things are organized.” I have heard it so often but for some reason (probably because I‘m selfish), “I always heard them as Great Job Mom!” But today I heard it for what it is. A tiny human telling me that she has likes and dislikes. Who functions better in her daily life when things are a certain way.
Today, I realized that most of our arguments and meltdowns stem from the two of us not seeing eye to eye on how to organize things. Mostly me – expecting her to know what I want from her. And to be really honest – I’ve not set things up in her spaces to make her very successful at organizing to her standards. I would melt down too if I wasn’t equipped with the tools I needed for my everyday life.
It’s true – my child is a little unique. She’s got some quirks. I mean, how many 4-year-olds do you know who enjoy folding laundry and enjoys making lists as a hobby. She basically schedules her entire next day at bedtime the night before. But I think the lesson I learned (while learning how to hang up the clothes) can be applied to any family.
Let’s think of it this way:
You LOVE it when you start every morning with a cup of coffee. You don’t just love it, but you’ve learned over time that you actually function better with your cup of coffee. It’s not the caffeine really – it’s the warmth of the liquid in your mouth and the smell. Oh and those little puffs of steam that bounce from the cup to your face as you take your first few drinks. It’s the experience. Your day is made better by it.
But here’s the thing – you have always had the coffee shop down the street make it for you. Well, the shop closed down and there’s not another one within an hour’s drive. And you have NO IDEA how to make a cup of coffee. You try to use a few of those fancy tools you’ve seen them use at the cafe but they are all just out of your reach and there are no instructions so you just fail. And every morning from here on out, you wish you had coffee and your life seems to be subpar without it. You feel like the day is a fail before you’ve gotten out of bed. Every day, for the rest of eternity, starts off with a fail.
BUT! Then someone sees that you are struggling. They see you just need coffee. But they don’t do it for you – they teach you how to do it yourself. They give you the right tools to make your own coffee. You never have to be without your blessed cup of joe ever again.
That’s how I feel like it is with kids sometimes. One day, we just expect them to do things by themselves. Whether they are 4 or 14 – one day we just want them to do things without our help. We expect them to just know things. But if WE didn’t teach them how to do it, if we didn’t EQUIP them with the tools it takes to do the jobs we expect them to do – that they have come to rely on – then haven’t we just set them up to fail?
Or maybe it’s like my sweet 4-year-old – she wants to do things in a way that I am not very good at. She wants them BETTER than how I do it. But that doesn’t mean I am not capable of teaching her and equipping her with the tools she needs to live a super-organized life. Maybe I’ll have to buy her a few baskets and a label machine. But I can 100% help her. It’s my job. It’s biblical.
When Jesus said to go and make disciples – He didn’t just say, “Alright, good luck. Peace out!” NO! He has spent years with his original 12 disciples teaching them over and over again how to share the gospel. He showed them through His actions and gave them the tools and knowledge they needed to do it themselves. He was there to answer their questions and to guide them in their choices.
Then, when He left them – they were more than prepared to take over and do it without Him. AND THEY DID! They spread the gospel all over the world – it’s how we still have the gospel message being shared today!
So… I’m just throwing this out there – maybe we should all try to be like Jesus. Let’s raise our children the way He raised up His disciples. Lead by example. Equip them with the tools they need. Share our knowledge. Make sure they understand what they are doing. And then let them DO IT!
Until Next Time,