Ah. That title just begs attention, doesn’t it?
For me, it’s been a giant, handheld mirror that I’ve been looking in over the last few days, and not necessarily by choice…but I’m grateful.
Let me start with a story. It’s a story about a hidden lesson; one that I probably think I need to perform on a daily basis, especially when I think that I’m being a rock-star parent.
Yesterday, I was taking care of a couple things around our chicken yard. I noticed that one of our baby goats was playing inside his water trough, but he wasn’t wet.
And I, of course, was concerned about that. It had been a very dry day, topping out around 98 degrees and 12% humidity. The heat was no joke, and they have little shade.
I checked their trough, and sure enough, it was dry as a bone. The baby was fine since he’s still nursing, but still. He and his momma needed water.
Within a couple minutes, our boys came home from an afternoon at the Colorado Rockies baseball game, where I knew they had been in the sun for a good portion of the afternoon and had probably pretty hot and thirsty. After a too brief, “I’m glad you’re home,” I asked them to “come see something.” We walked out to the goat pens together and I said, “Look.” They looked, but they didn’t see.
“Did you guys drink water today?”
“Yes ma’am. We each drank two full bottles and had slushies to keep us cool. It was so hot!”
“And you sat in the sun for a couple hours with no shade?”
“Like the goats?”
“What’s different between what you did and what the goats did,” I asked.
They looked confused. I proceeded to dive right into my teaching moment, feeling like that rock star I mentioned above, driving home the importance of water to our animals. They got it. They did their chores. And they checked on them all later that evening and again this morning. It’s their responsibility – to always make sure that the animals have enough clean water.
They felt terrible, and you know what? That pleased me. IT. PLEASED. ME. I felt like I had done a good job teaching. What I’m having a hard time conveying here is the tone I used. The looks. The pauses for effect that I employed were meant to shame them, not teach them.
Please don’t hear me wrong. This was an absolute lesson that they need to understand. It’s important. But my method – my tone and intention specifically – was meant to focus on their weaknesses. The fact that they had messed up was what I focused on, not the lesson that I could have taught them.
I didn’t fully realize on what I was teaching them until I heard our 8yo use the same language with his older brother, not 30 minutes later. He sounded snotty and accusatory. And then I noticed our 12yo do the same to his brother later that evening.
BIG. OLE. MIRROR.
So today, I set a new intention. And I will probably need to set this intention every morning for many mornings to come, until there is a power transfer from focusing on weakness to focusing on empowerment. From, “I can’t do anything right,” to “I GOT THIS.” There is power in grace and forgiveness and learning and the ability to allow others – and yourself – to be vulnerable without shame.
You with me?