As we head back to school this week, I’m thinking about lessons I have learned (and those I still hope to still get) and others that I hope to teach my daughter. She is seven and she is my teacher too. She is kind and wise and open. Always forgiving. By watching and talking with her I’ve become more aware, more flexible, more open myself and it seems every day I get to practice how to become more patient. I’m not too skilled at that yet, but I am definitely working on it.
I wrote about one of the things she taught me over breakfast earlier this year – here it is again. Still makes me happy to think about.
It can be hard to get my daughter to finish her breakfast – or finish anything for that matter.
Between the time she goes to put her socks on and come back out she’s discovered glittery specks on the carpet, a doll that needs dressing and had plenty of thoughts about how to align the couch cushions so she can stand on her head without toppling.
There is, one would say, a certain lack of focus that follows my 6-year-old. I on the other hand, tend to be hyper-focused when I’m on task. Narrow almost. Dogged, certainly.
You can imagine then the confluence of ideas that emerge when my unfocused child is parented by her focused mother. It’s a constant push and pull.
We talked about it the other day. I asked her to come up with a way to hone her focus; to think about how she could take on and complete one task at a time. Of course she was hopping and spinning on one foot while we talked. But, she said she would think it over and come back to me on this. After about five minutes, while braiding her doll’s hair while putting stickers on a paper, she did.
“Mama,” she says. “I’ve been thinking about my focus.”
“Yes. Well, what did you come up with.”
“Mama, my whole job is to wonder. And you know that because you do it too and I just can’t always focus when I wonder and my eyes need to see everything.”
I exhaled and felt love fill me up where the air had been. She is my daughter and she is also my teacher, just like I am hers. And, it’s her whole job to wonder and I know now, that I want her to wonder. To go through life with zest and curiosity and awe. To pay attention and get messy and get into the moments with such zeal and passion that she forgets about everything else.
It’s not always convenient, for sure. But that’s about me. As a mother then, it requires patience and integrity to figure out when it’s important that she be focused and intent and when it doesn’t matter a twit except to make my life easier.
After all, does it really matter when she gets her socks on as long as she does before the school bus comes? She hasn’t missed the bus yet. Nor, has she ventured out without socks. Though she did forget the shoes once.
What know is that just because she does just about everything differently than I do, doesn’t make it wrong or bad. In fact those are the times I should be paying attention because I have the most to learn.
Relationships are like this. Inconvenient, messy, frustrating. And, they are joyful, fun, interesting. The people we are most connected to in our lives are lives might be the most frustrating as well. But, they also have the most to teach us and they love us enough to do it.
To be patient and aware as this insight comes in even when I’m trying to get the dinner on the table and the bills paid, and the article out then is the challenge for me is the challenge now. But I’m a good student – mostly because I’m focused and intent on learning the lesson. Plus, I have some strategies fall back on when I feel like things are unraveling around here. I’ll tell you what they are in Wednesday’s post.
For now, what are the lessons you are learning from the people in your life? We might not always like what we see, but we can always grow from it.