Lately I have been surprised at some of the things my kids don’t know. I shouldn’t be really – we all need to be taught and told things. Not all of us figure everything out by context and observation as we go along. Myself included. Justin has had to explain way too many things to me over the course of our marriage – I blame no TV growing up.
Some examples of late include:
Anna’s first year of soccer she wanted to score a goal so so bad, but game after game she just couldn’t do it. Finally Justin sat her down and said, “K chica, you just have to keep kicking and kicking until you kick the ball in the net.”
He thought he was giving her a pep talk, but suddenly the whole sport became clear to Anna, “Oh that’s what a goal is?” What was once an abstract vague idea became concrete and she’s scored at least one goal in every game since (at least according to my slightly biased memory). She did go through a brief period where she thought that kicking the ball counted as scoring, but we cleared it up again.
In a similar vein, this is Max’s first season of soccer. He wouldn’t ever let his teammates touch the ball until, the wise father explained, “If your teammate scores a goal it counts for you too.” Again suddenly everything is clear. Now he cheers when anyone on his team scores, and makes some small attempts at passing.
Then there are the mundane cleaning chores that you think need no explanation. After all your kids have seen you do them their entire lives. The other day I asked Josh to put the food on the counters away. I later opened the fridge to see miscellaneous food in random places, including the cheese stuck in with the eggs, no wrapper on it whatsoever. Add that to my list: “You must put food in containers before you put them in the fridge.”
“It is under no circumstances OK to wipe boogers on the walls” They reply to this one… “But you didn’t want me to eat it or wipe it on my clothes,” Why those are the only other two options I have no idea.
“If something falls in the toilet you need to wash it/sanitize it or throw it away.” My Max was helping me clean the toilet last week, dropped his rag in, and then proceeded to continue wiping things down with it.
I didn’t realize “clean your room” was a vague concept. I’d tell the kids to clean their room before they could play. They would tell me they had, but when I checked there would be stuff on the floor, under the beds, and the closet looked like it had exploded… Then I got more specific. “Make your bed, clean your closet, everything off the floor etc…” We’ve all been happier with each other since.
Other things need to be explained too.
I had a friend tell me today that her son had no idea what “weekend” meant. He spent all of last year writing in his school journal every Monday about this elusive thing called a “weekend”. He would just copy down whatever the teacher used as a prompt. When she read back through it at the end of the year she was surprised to learn they’d been to Disneyland at least 4 times.
She spent all of a live play of the Sound of Music being very excited every time the “gnomes” came on. AKA “nuns”
She still gets very confused about the differences between America, St. George, Utah, and California, and frequently asks to go to America on our next trip.
There are also more serious things I realized I had never explained to my children.
What happened on 9/11
What it means to be free …When they have never known, read about, or experienced anything but this beautiful country.
And… Where we came from, Why we are here, and where we are going….
A couple of weeks ago I had Josh teach a family home evening lesson on the above questions because I learned that the younger two didn’t know the answers. They knew about the Savior, they knew that we wanted to be together as a family forever… the end.
As powerful as our example is, sometimes it’s not enough. Some things must be taught specifically and clearly with words, looking into trusting, annoyed, or sometimes tearful eyes. I wonder what else I’m forgetting to teach them. Thank heavens they are all still young.