Now is a good time to share my philosophy of learning. I share it regularly with my children, and I’m feeling grateful it has seeped into my own brain.
Over the years we have seen many toddlers take their first steps. It is SO exciting to watch their glowing eyes as they try to reign in their kissy, kicky feet and walk. Every child is so different. Some walk around furniture forever, can stand in the middle of the floor, yet won’t even attempt a step on their own. Some babies get so excited at the process they laugh themselves out of balance. Some babies are the cutest little zombies with their arms outstretched, others walk better when they are holding something, giving them the illusion of support. BUT they ALL fall. They all fall a lot! I have pretty good reflexes, honed by thousands of hours of gym time, but I can’t seem to catch them every time. Now think about what you would say if you saw a baby fall. Would it sound like this? “Stupid baby. You’ve never walked before. What in the world makes you think they can walk now? Have you seen your legs? They’re SO stubby! Yes your fat rolls are darling, and those toes are very edible, but for walking? Ridiculous. You don’t even have the coordination to pick up a cheerio consistently, yet you think they can walk? Stay where you are baby…crawling works for you, you should stick with it.”
NO! We would NEVER! It sounds so crazy! Instead we put on the high pitched voice we swore we’d never use when we were all knowing and childless. We say things like “Hop up darling!” “You can do it!” “Ooops a daisy!” (what does that mean? are flowers mistakes? did baby trip ON a daisy?). Anway you get the drift. We are so supportive and encouraging. Of course the baby will walk, though they may take their own sweet time. They may fall a hundred times, they may crawl for weeks or months more, but they will walk. We don’t doubt it.
How do we speak to ourselves when we are learning…let’s pretend we are learning to keep our homes cleaner. Let’s pretend we haven’t been very good at this in the past but we are making a consistent effort now…then something happens, we get tired, distracted or forgetful. How do we talk to ourselves? Do we say “Hop up darling, you can do this!” or do we go into some psycho tirade? Honestly, do you really think vacuuming a floor is something you in all your amazingness can’t do? This is beyond you?
We don’t always speak to ourselves very well do we.
ALL learning is a lot like learning to walk. You can do it. You may fall down a lot but you CAN do it!
Now four days ago when I first introduced my children to my shiny sink, I didn’t expect them to really wash their own dishes, or rinse them and put them in the dishwasher and wipe the sink. I hoped they would, but given their track record, I didn’t think it likely. BUT THEY WERE DOING IT! I overheard comments and reminders to each other. The rule bound 11yo was an especially detailed sink wiper, though he is a self avowed NON DISH WASHER. My husband had commented that he found it really easy to clean up from his late night snacks with such a clean sink. This was a miracle! The miracle of the shiny sink. I had never understood the shiny sink thing, but now I think I do.
Here is my confession. Yesterday after lunch the children were playing playdough. It was beautiful. The 14yo had run out of books and was playing nicely with the 10yo. They were setting up a playdough restaurant with a horse theme. They were playing so well together I was wondering if they were sick. The dough was a new recipe and I really like it. http://www.playdoughrecipe.com/traditional-playdough-recipe/ Then the awful thing happened…I placed the stirring spoon from the playdough into my shiny sink and I. LEFT. IT. THERE. I don’t know what I was thinking. Maybe I was holding the baby at the time, or wanted to get back to my book, or I just had to respond to someone on Facebook.I probably thought it wouldn’t matter. I don’t remember. But here’s the thing. That little utensil got really lonely in the sink. So lonely it sent off it’s dish emergency rescue beacon. This noise, though only unconsciously heard, makes people within the sound of it’s beeping become hungry. The person will eat something, then the magnetic pull of the emergency rescue beacon will make the dish feel heavy in their hands and they will leave the dish in the sink. TADA the poor dish who started the beacon is no longer alone. In fact soon it’s having a party.
Between 1 and 4 I was busy with piano lessons and other things. By the time I walked into the kitchen again the table looked like a playdough tornado had hit it and the SINK! My beautiful shiny sink had dishes in it! Not that many really, but enough to be sobering. I didn’t get down on myself, instead I used the energy to wash them up and shine my sink. It only took minutes.
There is power in a shiny sink. It invites personal responsibility, because if you don’t wash your dish it will be obvious! It is rewarding! If there is a sink full of dirty dishes and you wash your dish…you don’t feel that great…you have to go into defensive mode to rationalize why you aren’t doing the rest of the dishes and you slink away. But with a shiny sink there is a definite sense of accomplishment! You are a part of success and who doesn’t want to be a part of that? A shiny sink spreads. You have this free time, time you used to spend avoiding doing the dishes, that you can now spend creatively. You have time to wipe off the counter or vacuum, because the weight of a sinkful of dishes isn’t hanging over you…inviting you to sit down and rest up in anticipation of even considering washing the dishes (maybe that’s just me).
So if you are out there, starting to feel a bit discouraged, maybe you slipped up somewhere, or it’s just all not feeling possible. You are a fly BABY. Talk to yourself like you are learning to walk. Hop up! You can do this. Think of some of the amazing things you have done in the past and give yourself a little credit! You can do this! It is worth it! There is power in doing the little things!