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Making the Bed

March 6, 2009

It is really easy to overlook the little things.  We can get so busy, in such a rush, that we miss the smell of the roses right in our path.  For the past several years I’ve been on a journey to achieve a better balance between home, work, the spiritual, and me.  I’ve set some clear limits on my time, I’ve built in margins to absorb the unexpected, and I’ve made great progress into putting the large rocks in the jar first.

I really shouldn’t be too hard on myself.  Though I want to observe and respond to every cute, smart, and adorable thing my children do – that really isn’t possible.  Somethings are just going to slip through the cracks.

Last week, as I was rushing to get out the door, my Darling 4 year old Daughter stopped me.  She took my hand and led me back into the bedroom.  I could tell by the twinkle in her eye that she was excited.  She proudly showed me her bed and boasted, “Look Dad, I made my own bed!  All by myself!”  With that she stood with a big grin and awaited my adoring approval.

I almost missed it.  Making the bed isn’t high on my list of priorities.  In fact, I tend to subscribe to the view that the bed should air out during the day.  I don’t see it as messy, so much as I see it recuperating.  The sunlight and air help it to be ready for another night of hard sleep.

I almost missed it.  I was in a hurry.

I almost missed it.  It didn’t seem like it should take a lot of skill to make a bed – especially this little toddler bed.

And then it hit me.  This is one of those moments I don’t want to miss.  This was a great big almost adult accomplishment for her.  Not only did she do this on her own initiative (Mommy or Daddy didn’t ask, or direct, her to make the bed), but she did it well.  This is one of those moments a Daddy doesn’t want to miss.  This is one of those moments where we can praise their character and skill, not just their beauty and brains.  The former are things that are shaped, the latter are issues they have no control over.

It is easy to praise people in general, and kids in particular (especially our own kids) for their beauty, brawn, or brains.  But those things are mostly shaped by their genetic code.  Isn’t it better to give people, and especially our kids, praise and encouragement for doing the right things – not just doing things right.

Yeah…I almost missed it.  But instead of rushing off to my pre-scheduled task, I stopped and made a big deal about the well-made bed.  Then we went and got Mommy and showed her how cool her Darling Daughter is – as if she didn’t already know!

As I deal with teens and adults, the one thing I’m struck by is the generalized lack of confidence and self-esteem.  Much of this is rooted in the way a child is raised.  Much of this goes back to emotionally and/or physically absent fathers.  It is my belief, that if I treat my kids with respect and encourage their holistic growth, they can better overcome some of the defeating messages they receive while growing up.

What are you doing to encourage your kids’ emotional, spiritual, and social strength?

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