How Many Times?
- Terri Camp Home school author and mother
- 2002 8 Nov
As a mom I can often get discouraged by all the times I must tell the same child the same thing over and over again -- brush your teeth, brush your hair, wash your hands, take your plate to the sink, sweep the floor, clean your room, put away your clothes, don't eat in the living room, don't sit so close to the TV, do your math, don't be mean to your brother, share your toys, sit still, don't fidget, fold your hands, close your eyes, lie down, go to sleep, RUN to the bathroom, don't pull your sister's hair, turn off the TV, your computer time is up, clean your room, make your bed, hang up your towel, wash your hands, wash behind your ears, say please, don't jump on the bed, say thank you Mommy, don't spill that, eat with your fork, quiet voices in the house, change your clothes, don't talk to strangers, tell the truth, don't lie, go to sleep, finish your dinner, where did you get that cookie? And the list goes on and on.
There are times the discouragement will make you wonder if you're doing a good job as a mom. There are times when you will feel like your children will likely leave the house at the age of 18 and still not hang up their towels. I suppose this is a possibility, but more than likely the words we say, when said with love and mercy, will eventually sink into the children.
Rather than focusing on all the things my children still have not figured out, I thought I would think of the things they have. Ashley, at the age of 16, no longer stands on the couch with her shoes on. Christi, 15 years of age, has not run outside in the winter in her underwear for several years now. I can't say the same thing about Bryan yet, but I'm sure eventually he will cease this activity. Cathy no longer cuts her own bangs up to her hairline. David no longer bites his toenails.
Just the other day, I was able to see great fruit from my four youngest children. After dinner, John began putting away dinner, separating it into a couple of containers for Daddy's lunch. Then he washed the table after clearing it off. Next he put all the dishes in the dishwasher and started it. After that he swept the floor. He finished off by mopping the kitchen and the dining area.
Meanwhile, Briana was cleaning the front porch, hanging up all the jackets, and putting all the shoes in their proper bins.
Erica had gone right into the bathroom, hung up the towels, put away the shampoo, washed the counters and swept the floor.
Bryan offered to vacuum the living room. Because he's a bit afraid the vacuum is going to eat his toes, he held onto the vacuum as far away as he could then had me turn it on for him. I must say, for a 4-year old, he did quite well. Oh sure, there were a few little bits of things left near the edges but I chose to look at what he did accomplish rather than what he didn't.
As he surveyed his job he noticed himself there were still little pieces. Reluctantly, (because he's still a bit scared) he attached the hose and attachment, vacuuming up the bits of paper near the edge of the couch. Was it perfect? No.
None of the children were asked to do any of those things. After getting over my initial shock I began to smile. I felt like God was giving me a brief glimpse of the blessings that He gave me.
So often I find myself talking to them mostly about the things I want them to change.
Recently I read a suggestion that came through the firetime e-mail list at yahoogroups from a woman who, rather than circling the misspelled words, circles the words her child gets correct. What a great idea I thought to myself. I need to spend a little more time focusing on what the children do right, and less on what they do wrong.
I have definitely missed the gift of encouragement in myself but I know it's so important for our children to be encouraged rather than discouraged. This is something I must diligently pursue with my children - a gift I can give each of them for eternity.
Listen to Terri's weekly broadcast for home schoolers at www.thepathhome.com
In addition to devoting herself to her husband and the eight children she home schools, Terri also enjoys writing and speaking to offer encouragement to women in an effervescent, humorous way. Visit her Web site at www.ignitethefire.com
or e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org