~ by Christine Gough
Almost every Thursday, I pick my youngest son up from Pre-K class and trek out to his Occupational Therapy appointment. Many days it is a struggle to extract him from his friends and class but Thursdays, I don’t need the promise of any “carrots.” All I need to say is, “We get to go see Kecia today!” and he drops whatever he is working on like a hot potato and jets for the door. If only I drew such excitement and motivation.
Each week during our appointments, the activities change and vary but one activity stays the same and is a favorite—Putty Time. Theraputty provides a fun and engaging way for finger and hand strengthening as well as improvement of muscle coordination. Kecia’s Theraputty isn’t just putty, though….she has hidden treats inside. A Lite Bright bulb, a nautilus shell, an eraser, a LEGO, a plastic gecko, a marble, a plastic, pink jewel. Depends on the week, but usually Drew pulls and tugs and digs and searches for about eight items within the putty.
As he extracts each item it is an EVENT. Each item is announced with great enthusiasm, piled neatly, and then he goes back in for more. There is also a lot of “UUUUUUUGGHHHH”s and dramatic stretching and pulling sounds, but he puts in the hard work. Putty time on the schedule means challenge, but reward. Some pain and persistence, but a pay off.
So much of parenting is made up of these cause and effect moments. The lessons we want to have embedded on their hearts relate to “not giving up.” Teaching our children the value of grit and perseverance can feel never-ending. And in reality?! It is an ongoing life lesson. To build strength, we must pull and stretch our minds and bodies. We need to put ourselves in places of discomfort. There will be times we are digging and digging for some unknown something, with seemingly no clues, just the instruction, “Keep looking. Keep searching.” To get our desired effect, there is a directly related cause. Hard Work.
The lessons we so desire to impart are often the same ones we ourselves need. So, I challenge you to keep looking. Keep searching. Keep pulling and pushing. Press on when it seems like the plastic jewel will never be unearthed. That Lite Bright bulb might be within the next section, and your children are no doubt watching you to see what you might find. But even more so, if you stick with the task when it gets gray and fuzzy and overwhelming, you will grow.
With this in mind, I have been clinging to a prayer I read in Phyllis Tickle’s book, The Divine Hours: Prayers for Autumn and Wintertime. It was written by Sarum Primer in 1527. Almost 500 years ago. But his words ring true today.
“God be in my head
and in my understanding.
God be in my mouth
And in my speaking.
God be in my heart
And in my thinking.
God be at mine end
And my departing.”
May God be in our words, our hearts, our thoughts and our steps as we parent, encourage, model and push our children. Our words are being listened to. Our heart and affect matters. Our thoughts matter. God is in each push and pull and moment of grit.