My youngest daughter turned 4 in November. She’s a sweet little girl, but she isn’t above using her status as ‘baby’ (and my related softheartedness towards her) to conveniently ‘forget’ work, or to do small disobedient things. I’ve had the nagging realization for awhile that I need to get more serious about insisting that she obey every time. But it wasn’t until the last few weeks that I really buckled down and committed to making it happen.
Yesterday I asked her to fold two pair of pants and put them on her dresser. After an initial whine and an ‘accidental’ dropping of one pair, she got a firm grip on both pairs and (I hoped) headed off to obey. A moment or two later she was back, so quickly that I feared she’d just tossed the pants on the floor. She SAID she’d done it, but she’s been known to answer questions less than truthfully before. I knew I ought to go peek to verify that the work had been done.
I wrestled with my own laziness for a moment. Going to check on her work would interrupt mine. Honestly, would it really matter that hugely if the clothing was on the floor instead of on the dresser? My conscience was quick to remind, however– it wasn’t about pants, it was about developing character traits that would serve my daughter her whole life.
I sighed and went to look. She trotted cheerily with me– a good sign. Usually if a kid hasn’t done a job, she’ll scurry ahead of me to hastily make the job right. To my surprise, not only were the pants on the dresser, they were also folded with precision– a beautifully done job. As I hugged her and praised her to high heaven, she glowed, and I got the joy of relishing her success along with her.
Inspecting my kids’ work doesn’t only give me the chance to correct wrong, it also gives me the golden opportunity to praise the very good that I so much want to see and encourage in their lives. I tend to forget that part of the equation, but seeing the glow on her little face made me determined to remember it more often.