Thursday, July 11, 2013

Juggling and Milk

Whoever heeds discipline shows the way to life, 
but whoever ignores correction leads others astray.
Proverbs 10:17

My boys are trying to teach themselves how to juggle.  We found some online instructions, complete with animated pictures.  I explained about practice and persistence, read the first few instructions to them, and set them to practicing Step Two: Two Balls.

The 11 year old (Doc) threw the balls around for a while, slowly getting better and better, staying with it and laughing when he messed up (which was still fairly regularly.)

The seven year old (Grumpy) threw the balls, told me he was an expert and asked to see the next step.  When I told him he needed to keep practicing he harrumphed and whined.  A few minutes into it he told me he could do it.  I turned to see him throwing one ball high in the air while placing the other ball in the vacant hand.  I corrected him by showing him that he needed to actually throw the second ball.  More whining.

I think this is what his teacher was talking about when she said that he wasn't always teachable.

You think?

So we're going to work on being teachable.  All of us.

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Once upon a time there was a parent who told the child that there wasn't very much milk left so the child should have toast for breakfast instead of cereal.

What should the child's response be?
A: The child should eat toast for breakfast.
B: The child should look for milk anyway.

a) If the child eats toast, all is right with the world.
b) If the child looks for milk, this conversation might happen:

Parent - What are you doing?
Child - Looking for milk.

Parent - I just told you there wasn't any.  Don't you believe me?
Child - Well, I just wanted to make sure.

Parent - I already told you there wasn't any more.  Just have toast.

Frustration for two people. Child eats toast.

Later, someone discovered that there was, in fact, *more milk in the fridge.  Enough milk for a couple days of cereal for the whole family.  Parent feels shame at reacting that way to the child.

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*If you live in Canada and drink milk from a bag, it is very possible to lose a couple bags of milk under the cheese drawer.
Milk comes from a bag in Canada.  Three of these bags makes one gallon.  It's just what we do.

That didn't happen.  The child ate toast without bothering to look for the milk.

I appreciate that my children are well-behaved and able to obey instructions, but it bothers me that they don't feel that they can question something innocent like this.  I would love to have discovered that there was in fact, milk in the bottom of the fridge.  We now have an extra gallon of milk that is taking up room in our fridge.

But more importantly, my child is being taught to follow orders without questioning.  It doesn't matter too much when it comes to milk, but it can make a world of difference later on in life.

In my own desire to be teachable, I realize that I need to change the way I parent/interact so that my children are not turned into little Yes-robots.  I need to watch for those conversations, the ones where I need to change my behaviour, and let myself learn from them.  I need to be teachable, just as I expect my children to be teachable.

Whoever heeds discipline shows the way to life, 
but whoever ignores correction leads others astray.
Proverbs 10:17


  1. Well, In that case. My children consider ME imminently teachable. And I find them rather UNteachable. Especially the girls.

  2. What great thoughts in your blog!
    - Aunt Bernice

  3. Milk comes in bags only in Ontario, I believe. It's weird.