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“There is nothing either good or bad but thinking makes it so.” ~William Shakespeare
My nine year old daughter Bella, is number seven in a line of nearly eleven children.
Oftentimes she is the one who escapes the work. When she did have to work, she learned to throw enough of a fit to get summoned out of the room to stand in time-out or to babysit a sibling. Children aren’t fools, they are quite intelligent.
Time and patience are a mother’s allies. I knew she would mature enough with positive expectation. I’m not a mother who gives up because the child doesn’t do something. But, I also try to make it fair according to what they emotionally as well as physically can handle. My daughter emotionally couldn’t handle certain assignments and would completely break down. Like cleaning up her room; it is too big of a job for her to emotionally and mentally grasp alone or with someone near her age. But, she is good at other things such as folding socks, helping make dinner, or bathing a sibling.
This past year has brought many changes for my daughter, changes I never expected or planned, but God led us to to help her in her growth and maturity. She went from solely homeschooling, to going to German school, to moving to the top of her class. She can translate as an assistant for her teacher and helps her sister who is also in German school. She has excelled in personal responsibility. She makes sure she has a lunch made and that she has breakfast money for the backerei when they leave every morning. Her homework is done before she goes to bed and her clothes and bag set out. She wakes herself up at 5:30 am, a time she chose as she knows how slow she moves, and she sets her own alarm clock each night. All this she has done without reminding or telling her what she needs to do. She knows in our family, if certain things aren’t completed by your own choosing you go without, no one else will do them for you. In various other ways, we expect and teach service. It’s always a delicate balance. We advocate and expect personal responsibility, but some of our children have learned it differently than others. She is still working on other areas of personal responsibility (self-government) such as bathing regularly, but this is where I step in until she is the one begging me to take a shower.
All this she does daily, but in other ways she is overwhelmed, so I keep this in consideration. Last night, through a long line of unfortunate circumstances, we were locked out of the house before going to a dinner appointment with friends. My husband still had the rental car keys (from our trip to Italy we just came home from) in his pocket so in two trips he got us to our friends’ home. On the way back, to wait for the locksmith, my husband and I chose Bella to be the “older” kid to help us bring back the youngest two. She handled it like a champion. She fit perfectly in the role of big sister, even helping to bath her four year old sister and get her in pajamas. No one nagging. No one tattle-taling on Bella. She did as she was expected.
It is hard to not to compare; comparison is unfair. Her oldest two sisters were doing dishes, laundry, gardening, etc. at her age. None of her older siblings broke down at the mere sight of a pile of laundry to fold. But, they aren’t her. She is made differently. Comparison to each other has never inspired any of my children. It is my responsibility to see the good within each child and to help them see it. Sometimes, it takes a lot longer than I would expect or want. You can’t make flowers grow. You can only create good soil, plant the seeds, water them (with praise, love and patience), give them an appropriate amount of light, and in their own time, in God’s time, they will grow and then blossom.
If I did things my way all the time, I would never achieve the results I so strongly desire. Mothers who know, do things God’s way. Mothers who know, wait for the right time to plant. Mothers who know lavish love, patience, and praise at appropriate times. Mothers who know, don’t give up. As I relearn in different ways with each of my precious offspring, children live what you expect of them.