Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Crush Or Cultivate?

We're only half way through day two of this school stuff and the toilet overflows when the one who's learning to wipe herself puts half a roll of toilet paper in it and flushes.

The baby's whining, he needs food and a clean diaper.

The oldest is watching his math lesson in the living room and asking me something about place value, all the while the girls are screaming in a panic over the water level quickly rising on the bathroom floor.

Completely oblivious to the chaos, the oldest comes skipping in and asks me in a loud voice, as to be heard over all the crying going on, "Mom, have you ever heard of decimal street? Where is it? Or, what is it? Is it a where or a what? I've never even heard of that before, have you?"

By now, I've used all the towels in the linen closet and my brain is simply trying to figure out which valve turns off the water, and when I think I've found it, I'm wondering which way to turn it, and neither right nor left seems to be doing much of anything...

All I'm trying to do is think... All he's trying to do is figure out what decimal street is.

I can feel my shoulders tightening and my eyes starting to water and it's only day two, and how am I going to do this?

The water stops flowing but it won't go down. I feed and change the baby and put him down for a nap but now I need to go to the bathroom and with the baby alseep in our room and water mess in the other one, I'm fresh outta luck. Thank goodness for close, kind neighbors.

On my way back up the dirt road, The Cowboy comes out of his office in the man cave. He pulls me in and kisses my forehead, "how's it goin up there?"

I breath deep, sigh. "It's frustrating. Siah, he asks so many questions and I feel overwhelmed and how do I be Mama AND teacher, and fix the toilet and feed everybody, and explain decimal street?? I try to remember to breath, but I forget and then I hear my words crushing their hearts... and well, i just don't know about this."

He smiles and tells a story...

Last night Si and I were in the kitchen and I went to pull out the shepherd's pie and he asked me, "Papa, why do you use those hot pads when you take the stuff out of the oven?" And I told him, "because it's hot and I would burn myself if I didn't use them."

"Ya, but how did you know that you were supposed to use them?"

He wants to know how everything works and the best thing that we can do for him is to teach him how to think through the how's and the why's on his own. So I answered his question with a question.

"Well, buddy, I just thought about what I already knew. So what do you already know? What do you know about ovens?

"They get really hot and cook stuff."

"Exactly. And if they get hot, what happens if we touch them?"

"We get burned."

"Exactly. So what could we do to get the food out of the oven without getting burned?"

"Use those things you just used."

"And that's how you know, by using your thoughts to figure things out."

Love, you just need to simplify your expectations, of them, and of yourself. Do only what the Lord puts in front of you in each moment. Maybe he overflowed the toilet to slow you down, to remind you that one of your main goals as a Mama and Teacher is to cultivate our kid's strengths. Siah's curiosity is one of his greatest strengths. You can either crush it with your choice to be frustrated, or you can slow down and take the time to teach him how to think through things.


That's just it, we can crush or we can cultivate.

And my Siah and I, we don't think alike. He's got his Papa's brain. Half the time I don't understand where he's going with his thoughts. And it's a challenge for me to have the patience to take the time to pour out what he needs.

When I chose frustration over a thought provoking conversation with my son, I'm crushing his inquisitive heart.

But if I chose to slow down, relinquish my over-achiever expectations and submit to whatever the Lord brings in the moment, then I can experience the gift and the joy of cultivating my son's strength of curiosity.


The Cowboy turns to walk back to the man cave, to get back to work, and I call out a heart-felt "Thanks for that."

He turns and winks and says it slow and kind and with that grin that I'e loved since I was twelve, "Ya. I love you."

I love him too and I walk back up that dusty dirt road to the farmhouse with a heart refreshed, ready to try again. :)