Sunday, May 6, 2012

In Which We Nurture Them into Bloom

"Mom, I've got my room clean!" Robby races upstairs to announce before I even have the dishes done from our Saturday morning breakfast.

"Robby, you are on top of it! I am impressed!" I respond.

He has done this three weeks in a row now and I think I'm beginning to see a little blossom.

He comes toward me with open arms, "Ya," he chuckles, "remember when I would have so much to clean up that I would just sit in the middle of it and do nothing?"

Sure, given that was just in the last months and since he was about four.

"Do you think we expected a little too much of you when we required you to clean your whole room by yourself when you were just four and five years old?" my cheek to his.

"Ya," he chuckles again.

He's eight and I'm beginning to think age eight is that season where our children are ready for so much more on their own because, developmentally, they can reason through things much more maturely.  

"Well we have the pleasure of learning through you, our first born, because otherwise, we just don't know sometimes."

It's like God built him specifically for that.

We head downstairs to inspect his work. I enter the spacious room with tracked taupe carpet. "Your room looks great, Robby! Now it just needs to be vacuumed."

"I don't want to vaccuum it," his sinful nature chimes in, "I don't like to. You do it."

"Well, you know, I don't really like to vaccuum either," I gently retaliate.

"You're right. You have to vaacuum the whole house. I'll do it."

I've never heard that sort of reason and concern for others in him like this, when it comes to work he really doesn't want to do. ever. until now.

The truth is, in the past, we have helped him through cleaning his room on a number of occasions. We've seen that, otherwise, it would not get done in spite of our strategic tactics for compliance, yet not without frustration along the way. But we've learned that at four and five, even six and seven, they are not quite capable of all that we expect them to do on their own. We seem to expect more of them, at early ages, than possibly they are capable of achieving developmentally, socially, and emotionally by design. Yet, we've easily ignored that knowledge. We've seen how they get overwhelmed and shut down. And still, we expect them to do their small part - like we're rushing the seasons - because we simply don't have the time, availability or maybe the energy to walk along side and nurture them where they are at. We do it because we expect them to be responsible and thoughtful and when they don't succeed, we blame laziness and irresponsibility.

But who are we kidding? We expect it because we get overwhelmed and we have our own tasks that take priority. 

We've planted the seed and now we want results. Yet, the seed still needs attending to.

Although it is true that our children are physically capable of responsibility at earlier ages, how are we helping them succeed? I believe that, emotionally and even socially, the confidence and ability to succeed is built upon loving, on-going, side-by-side nurturing and training throughout these formative years. 

Could this be a motto that applies to areas broader than household chores? 

We do things a little differently with the younger three. We don't just show them how to take on a responsibility and expect them to have it mastered by the second or third try. In the same way we can't plant a seed, water it a few random times and expect it to thrive. We walk with them through their tasks, their struggles, and triumphs and slowly give them more and more responsibility and independence as they succeed - all the while present to them. We understand they are in continual training while under our roof. They don't have to have it all mastered by five. really. 

Like a bud, which opens in time with good soil, the right amount of sunlight, and plenty of moisture, we nurture them continually into each season of bloom.

Counting gifts of gratitude with Ann today:

children playing together with vivid imagination
a date with my oldest
taking risks
steak and hard conversation with my man
my man, a constant support in my life
the friends who lift me up:
the friend who prays with me
the friend who memorizes scripture with me
the group of friends who meet monthly with me over food and fellowship
the distant friends
the friends right here


  1. You've done a great job raising a boy who is showing signs of being willing to help you! That takes a great deal of training on the part of the parents.

  2. Love your approach to growing those characteristics strong. I feel like our firstborn is our guinea pig for learning how to do this thing called shaping a child... sometimes I tell him, nearly fourteen now, "I'm so sorry for all the things we'll try and do wrong, but so glad for God's grace as He uses you to shape us as parents!" You're a wonderful mommy. Keep up the good work, friend. 8 years old is one of my favorite boy ages. Savor the sweetness!

  3. Good job. I always say that each child is unique and they learn things at different times, in their own way. I try hard not to comapre my children to anyone else, not even a sibbling. When they are ready, it will happen. :) Have a good day!

  4. does take time...nurturing...feeding...weeding...and in due are giving them wonderful soil to blossom in. Blessings to you as you continue to help the Gardener of their souls~

  5. What a sweet, sensitive response from your son. :)
    I know I've been guilty of "not tending the seed"-- expecting it to be fully grown, when these young ones need more nurturing, training. Oh, if only I could do some things over! I'm so thankful for grace!

    My youngest is now 8, and I can see the changes in him. He can vacuum and unload the dishwasher. We expect more of the older ones. My 11 year old mows the lawn, can load the dishwasher, wash some dishes, and do his own laundry. My 14 year old does her own laundry, helps with dishes, can cook a full meal and can help tidy up rooms. All 3 kids helped dig up the garden, and last fall helped me plant 100 tulips in the yard.

    And when the clean laundry pile gets high, I dump all the clothes on my bed, turn on some music, and announce a "laundry folding party"! The kids actually do enjoy it (and thankfully haven't outgrown this one yet!)

  6. These are very wise words and a great reminder for me! I find that my oldest has always been ready for more at an earlier age than the other two. So, even when we think the oldest helps us figure it all out, there's still so much to learn!

  7. My oldest says we were much harder on him. I tell him that we had inappropriate expectations of what a 2 year old, 4 year old can do. Yes, I do think God equips 1st borns to handle that responsibility of forging the way for his siblings!

    Your son sounds like he's a heart-felt leader!

  8. You're such a good mom, Theresa! I learn so much from you. :) Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  9. What a sweet and thoughtful reminder. My girls 9 and 12 are great helpers around the house and in their rooms. Although I need to remind myself that their organization and decorating are different than mine (when it comes to their bedrooms)and I am happy when the dirty clothes are in the laundry basket and games or gadgets are away :) Seeds indeed...with care a beautiful flower!

  10. This is so true! It's taken us a while to figure that out:) My oldest is seven and a half and we're starting to see that maturity. Looking back, we may have tried to force it too soon, before it was ready to bloom. Such a great post, hit me right where I am:)

  11. I love the whole thought of a bud opening with the right amount of sunlight, water and soil. Still learning with our 4 teenagers...but I see lots of growth that makes me smile:-)
    Thanks for this post Theresa...very encouraging!

  12. You have encouaraged me to be more intentional with my son about responsibility. A sacred echo for me this morning about things I am already pondering. It sounds like you have a son with a teachable and kind heart.


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