Sometimes our kids sure have a lot they can teach us. About simplicity, authenticity, and life. About being who we are without trying to put on a show, or pretend to be…well…anything that we are not. About being enough, because we are enough…
This past week, I really wanted to make these cute heart crayons (don’t even get me started on the massive pile of broken crayons we have collected over the years). I ordered a silicone heart mold, and when it came in the mail my 1st grade daughter, Audrey, was thrilled. We sat for hours peeling paper off crayons (it was so fun that my 3 year old son and my 30 year old husband also joined in). We organized them and mixed and matched colors, we got excited to see what they would look like after they melted. We got creative with different colors of glitter. We each made ones that were specifically our own. We sat in front of the oven and watched them melt…
And we were right to be excited. When they came out of the oven…each one was a treasure:
We oohed and awed over all of them, we put them in piles, decided which ones were our favorite, and which friend would like which one the best. It was fun…
mom ruined it.
You see, all along I had a vision of what these heart crayons should be. A cute crayon valentine placed inside an adorable little baggie with an ornate hand crafted tag inserted inside. A cute phrase like: Valentine, you color my world (obviously found on the internet) written in a font that could be colored, and maybe a cute little coloring page folded in there too…you get the idea. It was big and grand, and not from Audrey…
Later that day, I walked into the kitchen, and saw my adorable 6 year old cutting up pieces of lined paper, writing “Don’t eat me I’m a crayon” onto each one and stuffing them haphazardly into my cute little bags.
I’m embarrassed to admit it, but I was so disappointed. My pretty valentines were not as pretty as I imagined and it wasn’t what I wanted. My daughter looked at me and knew immediately that something was wrong.
I tried to recover, but I wasn’t fast enough. She could tell by my face that I didn’t like it. I quickly tried to reassure her, to say it was fine, that I liked what she had done, that I liked what she had written, that it was cute…but she didn’t believe me. She took out all the papers and wadded them up and threw them away, asking me what I would want her to write…telling me it was ok, that she would change it.
And then I saw it.
The show that I was trying to put on.
The fake, unauthentic way of life that I was teaching my child to live. I was telling her through my actions, that her ideas for her own valentines weren’t good enough. That it would be better if she copied a cute phrase found on the internet, than come up with one on her own. That hers wasn’t good enough.
I felt like dirt.
Sometimes, it is hard to see the truth of our actions. It may seem small…and maybe it is…but then again maybe its not. My whole life I have wanted to be like other people. I have valued their opinions over my own, cared deeply about what they thought I should do. And I could see it all in my daughters face when she looked at me. She wanted me to be pleased with her…wanted me to like what she created, and when she could tell that I was disappointed she took what she had done and threw it in the garbage…
I don’t want her to feel like her ideas are garbage…because they aren’t. The more I thought about it, the more I fell in love with her idea…with her phrase. And the longer I thought about it, the more I started to hate that dumb phrase I found online. That phrase was real for someone else (the person who thought of it), but not for us. And definitely not for Audrey. The longer I sat with it, the more I fell in love with what my daughter had authentically and lovingly created herself. I tried to get her to write it again but she wouldn’t…so I disappointingly put it away.
It took a few days, but I finally convinced Audrey that I didn’t want her to do anything different than what she had done. I let her get out more paper and scissors and make another note to go with her crayons. This time, she wrote “Rainbow crayon. From: Audrey” and I think it is perfect. It is from her, not from me, and it is definitely not from a random person found on the internet. I just hope that next time, I wont let perfect get thrown in the garbage can in the first place…
Just something to think about:
I read this week that we should view our children as little Buddha’s…always there to teach us what we need to learn. They never go away, they never stop teaching, they just keep on and keep on until we learn to see them for what they are, and finally stop and listen.
Hope you all have a very Happy Valentine’s Day!