Thursday, December 5, 2013

Appreciate.

A few weeks ago, Paul and I had been enjoying a little too much fun time with the kids and had not been enforcing any sort of clean up of the Lego area in the basement.  I feel like it is really important for the kids to have an area where they can just "be" and not have to clean up after themselves constantly- work on their project, leave it, come back to it, be messy, just pretend.  When the Legos were in our family room, that didn't happen because we had to clean them up every night- which when you have tired kids (and many of them) can sometimes be quite the struggle!  The day we moved the Legos to our basement was a happy, happy day. . .but even then, the kids do have to clean them up occasionally, like the other week when there were definitely about 4 Legos in a box and 4,000 Legos on the floor.  So, we pumped ourselves up, pep talked, put on some Queen for "Queen Up Time" and sat down as a family with the best of intentions to clean the Legos.   Well begun is half done, right? Noah was in his Exersaucer, providing a lovely soundtrack of crashing toys, Josh was in charge of the wheels (and mostly forgetting), Phil was cleaning diligently and Daniel was, well, Daniel.  D picks up a Lego, but before he can even put it in a box, his mind is swept away by all of the SHEER POSSIBILITIES of this tiny piece.  What could it be?  What could I turn it into?  What creation could I add this to?  Isn't this Lego funny?  Let me tell you a story about it.  Where is the minifig that goes with this?  What was I supposed to be cleaning up, anyways??  By the time several hundred Legos were boxed away and Daniel had only managed to clean about five of them (one per three gentle reminders to stay on task), Paul looked at me with a raised eyebrow and said, "You deal with him.  I am going to looooose it."

You have to understand, D is not TRYING to avoid cleaning up the Legos.  He doesn't mean to be this way.  He's like our little absent minded professor. . .always dreaming and spilling his milk and tripping over things and drawing amazing pictures and thinking of great stories and jokes and always the last one out the door with his coat unzipped and one shoe half on.   Being the insightful little buddy he is, he seems to get this about himself. . .but sometimes Mommy and Daddy can use a reminder!  So, since it is important that both parents don't lose it at the same time and it was my turn to not lose it, I worked very hard to be patient with him and said, "D. . .honey. . .do I have to yell at you to clean up the Legos?  Why do you not listen when I ask you nicely?  Do I have to get angry with you for you to clean?"  

And he looks at me and drops the knowledge bomb.

"Mommy.  You and I just have DIFFERENT BRAINS.  My brain thinks about Angry Birds.  And Star Wars.  And Legos.  Aaaaand Lego.com.  And Batman.  Your brain is a mommy brain.  It thinks about cleaning and washing dishes and, like, taking care of kids.  We just have different brains."  

(And of course, since this was Daniel talking, it was accompanied by his adorable raspy voice, excessive hand gestures and Legos are most definitewy Wegos.)

Daniel gets it.  We do have different brains.  Different priorities.  Daniel is hardwired for creativity and play.  I am more likely to think about keeping the baby safe and Cheerios off the floor and dishes in the dishwasher and checking things off my to-do list.  Someone has to do it, of course, but I think our kids can be a powerful reminder of how we used to be and how we could still be if we freed our minds just a lil' bit.

And just in case I didn't get the lesson, the same thing happened when he was telling me about school the other day.  A friend wasn't letting him play and was leaving him out (because his name starts with the letter D, you know, the obvious reasons. ;).  I was getting a little indignant and asked him why he thought his friend acted like that, and he simply said in a completely Zen tone, "Mommy, he just has a different brain than me."  What I love about D is that he just accepts that.  He doesn't condone the way his friend acted, or think that he would ever act that way.  He understands that different people just, well, think DIFFERENTLY.  We all have different brains.  Different experiences.  Different ways of being in the world.  And even if we don't always agree, that's OK.

I think as adults it can really be easy to get stuck in our own my-way-or-the-highway mentality.  Daniel reminds me that I need to accept and appreciate that about all of the people who cross my path- starting with the people closest to me!  Sometimes I can come at my kids or my husband from a place of criticism of what they aren't doing, instead of a place of appreciation for the gifts that make them unique and amazing.  And just a quick glance at any comment section of pretty much ANY article on the internet shows that many adults approach life with a preeeeetttyyyyyy critical eye, unlike the littlest members of our society, who simply appreciate.   I am pretty sure Jesus called us to take a cue from our kiddos here.  

Less criticism.
More wonder.
Less judging.
More loving.
Less trying to change others.
More appreciating their differences.

If there weren't a bunch of different brains out there, the world would be a pretty boring place.  We can't really change other people's brains, but we can change our own hearts. . .and bring more simple, childlike Love into the world. 

Thanks for the reminder, Sunny D- just in time for Christmas, when Perfect Love came to Earth as a child.

(One of my favorite pictures of D at age 2, taken by my sis.  I love the wonder of little kids, and this just about sums it up for me.)

2 comments:

racheltoalson said...

I loved this, Jen. First, I wish I had a basement. We turned our garage into a playroom for the kids for sort of the same reason. Toys can take over a house very quickly.

Second, I really love your heart for your children. This is the heart of empathic parenting. Seeing our children not for the people we want to make them be but the people they already are, guiding them into who they were created to be.There's a reason we were all given different brains! My children teach me so much every day...I would miss it if I were trying to impose my "more logical, adult" brain on them.

Jen Zink said...

Amen, Rachael! So glad I found your blog!

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