"Can you believe Harrison fussed on Christmas day?!"
"Did you hear what Gavin said to so-and-so?"
"Cannon was so mean to Henry! He tried to choke him!"
On and on I went, and although Steve chimed in also, it was definitely more me fussing than him.
After a pause he said, "I know our kids can be bad, but they're just kids, and, man, I love the crap outta them."
Why do I forget that so often? They are just kids.
I remember as a kid the stupid things I said and did. I remember the impact it had when an adult or peer scolded or corrected me. It took those struggles to learn the dos and don'ts of life.
In the fifth grade I went up against another girl for a part in the school play. I just knew I was a much better fit for the role of Aphrodite. I did end up getting picked and as I walked back into the classroom I walked up to her, pointed my finger, and said, "Ha! In your face!" She immediately started crying and ran out of class. I was eleven years old! Eleven! I should have known better. It took that experience, that struggle, to know I never wanted to make someone feel like that again. That's not to say, since then, I've never hurt anyone's feelings, but, it certainly has never been intentionally like it was that day.
Or in the third grade when I tricked my friend into combining our Halloween candy and keeping it at my house. I selfishly knew that keeping it at my house allowed me to have full access to her goods. I was stealing!
Or my aunt's wedding, age six, I was the flower girl who refused to smile in any pictures. Her pictures are beautiful-- minus a bratty flower girl scowling in the front row. I don't remember why I was mad, but I was six, so in that moment all that mattered to me was me and how I felt. It took me probably into my late teens to learn that I'm not the most important person. I'm really sorry about that one, Aunt Pat.
In the second grade I was irritated by a girl who was clearly the best drawer in our class and told her she was terrible at drawing. I hated art, even then, and was so frustrated that this girl came by it so easily. The other girls were then mean to me because I was mean to her. That was a struggle to learn to art of group friendships.
I could go on and on.
Why do I feel the need to spare my kids those struggles? Those struggles are what helped make me into who I am. I can't expect them to be adults when they aren't. I have to be the adult and learn to work through my embarrassment of seeing them behave that way and know they are kids learning through their own struggles.
Struggle is Good! I Want to Fly!
Once a little boy was playing outdoors and found a fascinating caterpillar. He carefully picked it up and took it home to show his mother. He asked his mother if he could keep it, and she said he could if he would take good care of it.
The little boy got a large jar from his mother and put plants to eat, and a stick to climb on, in the jar. Every day he watched the caterpillar and brought it new plants to eat.
One day the caterpillar climbed up the stick and started acting strangely. The boy worriedly called his mother who came and understood that the caterpillar was creating a cocoon. The mother explained to the boy how the caterpillar was going to go through a metamorphosis and become a butterfly.
The little boy was thrilled to hear about the changes his caterpillar would go through. He watched every day, waiting for the butterfly to emerge. One day it happened, a small hole appeared in the cocoon and the butterfly started to struggle to come out.
At first the boy was excited, but soon he became concerned. The butterfly was struggling so hard to get out! It looked like it couldn’t break free! It looked desperate! It looked like it was making no progress!
The boy was so concerned he decided to help. He ran to get scissors, and then walked back (because he had learned not to run with scissors…). He snipped the cocoon to make the hole bigger and the butterfly quickly emerged!
As the butterfly came out the boy was surprised. It had a swollen body and small, shriveled wings. He continued to watch the butterfly expecting that, at any moment, the wings would dry out, enlarge and expand to support the swollen body. He knew that in time the body would shrink and the butterfly’s wings would expand.
But neither happened!
The butterfly spent the rest of its life crawling around with a swollen body and shriveled wings.
It never was able to fly…
As the boy tried to figure out what had gone wrong his mother took him to talk to a scientist from a local college. He learned that the butterfly was SUPPOSED to struggle. In fact, the butterfly’s struggle to push its way through the tiny opening of the cocoon pushes the fluid out of its body and into its wings. Without the struggle, the butterfly would never, ever fly. The boy’s good intentions hurt the butterfly.
As you go through school, and life, keep in mind that struggling is an important part of any growth experience. In fact, it is the struggle that causes you to develop your ability to fly.