Awhile ago I took my kids to Home Depot where they had the opportunity to complete a cute keepsake box. There was a huge crowd of parents leaning over their kids, guiding hammers and holding small pieces of wood steady.
My kids hammered the nails in crooked, sometimes bending them. We giggled and I helped them pull out nails if they requested it. There were only a few pieces but they still managed to get them misaligned, albeit only slightly. It was fun.
About halfway through a man arrived with his pre-teen daughter. With nearly every stroke of her hammer he grew visibly frustrated.
“How many times have I told you, you can’t hold the hammer like that?” He jerked the hammer from her hands and nailed it for her.
She was apparently used to that kind of correction because she patiently placed the next piece.
“You can’t hold it like that!”
She waited until he set the hammer down, picked it up herself and began to hammer the piece he held firmly.
“How many times…”
By this point my kids were glancing at me. He was obnoxious. It went on for the next ten minutes until we were finished and able to leave. The man continued to correct his daughter. I looked around and noticed that most of the parents were literally completing the projects for their children.
It made me laugh, because as a homeschool mom, I realize teaching doesn’t come naturally. It is easier to just do it for the student than it is to watch them blunder around it.
I was saddened as I walked away. I knew that every time that other girl looked at her box she would she see all the imperfections her dad attempted to fix. I imagined her feeling the same sentiments every time she opened it that she felt while making it.
I took two things from this, first to sit back more as my kids fumbled over crafts. But more so, something my mom once told me came to mind. When she was the director of a preschool she said “It didn’t matter what the children did for the day, what they learned or experienced because the parents wanted a paper to take home.” Parents didn’t seem to feel that their child had done anything or learned anything unless they had a sheet in hand as proof.
I believe evaluating our kids on the project instead of the process creates a product-based experience, and that can be faked without learning.
I find I am the same. I want the perseverance, but not the testing of my faith; patience, but not the trials. This is reiterated by what our assistant pastor taught yesterday on Elijah in 1 Kings 18. He talked about the mountain top experiences and the valleys in life while reminding us that we need to seek God in the in-between. The boring day to day.
So my prayer is that I can treasure Philippians 1:6, that God will be faithful to complete the work He has started in me, while I look for joy in the journey.