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Thursday, May 26, 2016

Let It Go: Struggles of a Type-A Parent

Like most educators, I have a type-A personality. I like things in order. They may not always seem to be in order to others, but my order makes sense to me. I like routine. I like plans, especially my plans. And like Hannibal Smith from "The A-Team", I love it when a plan comes together (hmmm, "Type-A", "A-Team". Coincidence? I think not...).

I struggle with this when it comes to my kids. They don't like order. They like to throw wrenches into plans. They like chaos.

This may be hard to believe for people who have read this blog, but for anybody who knows me, this probably comes as no surprise. I often get frustrated when my grand master plan starts to unravel.

So let me tell you about last week. My three year old son was very sad because his sisters had a decorative cross hanging in their room and he didn't have one. So we decided to make one together. I have pieces from an old organ, and we searched through to find a piece of wood that we thought we could use. So far, everything was going according to my plan. And I was spending some great time with my son.

We decided to plane the piece down to remove the old varnish, stain, and marks. And here is where the metaphorical wheels fell off. As I was straightening up the workshop, Little E decided that he was going to work on a project of his own. He found my bin of irrigation supplies, and his engineering spirit took over. He started constructing a machine. And he had a description of everything that this machine did. I started to get irritated. After all, he was the one that enlisted me to work on a project. I was doing this for him.

And then he held up his machine, and my heart melted. He was having so much fun. So what if the cross did not get completed that day. Actually, the cross didn't get started that day. But Little E and I got to play with PVC pieces, build machines, and laugh. I was reminded, not for the first time and definitely not for the last, that my children will not necessarily remember our output, but rather the quality of our time together. There will be plenty of time for me to build things for and with my kids. But when their engineering spirit, or creative abilities, or gardening minds take over, I should embrace that. After all, parenting isn't just about bringing my kids into what I am doing. It's also about the time that I spend doing the things that they love.

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