After writing this post about the importance of exposing kids to nature, I've been thinking more and more about the "how tos" of parenting. I know what I want for my children; I know what I dream for their lives and characters to look like, but how do I get from point A in my head to point B in real life? The nature issue seems a little simpler to me-- open the door and make them play outside, show them how to play outside and create. But here are a few other things I've been thinking about:
And then there is the reading thing. How do I create a space in which they become book lovers, devouring words and pages and cracking spines and meeting new characters and places? Can they fall in love with the act of reading and taste the words on their lips? How do I show them that reading will make them notice more, create more, learn more, think more, grow more, be challenged more? I can't make this happen. Or can I?
But just like with nature, is it really just about getting out there with them? Showing them? Living it with them?
I want Blythe and Becks to have a close relationship. So do we just show them that, as a family, we enjoy spending time together? That we like to be with each other? Do I just let them see my relationship with Kali? Do we just point them to each other when they are wandering? Do we let them explore life together, and create joint experiences for them? There is no formula for this, but is it just in the living life with them?
And books? Reading? I know I can model that. I know I can read to them and with them and near them. I can surround them with books. I can empty their shelves of clothes and toys and we can live on words! But I can't force them to like it. So do I just show them the beauty of books, and let them roam around the pages on their own, and let the siren call of the printed words do their magic? There is no formula for this, but is it just in the exposure and joy?
And Jesus. The stakes are high here. Is it just a combination of the rest of these? Do I open the door and let them romp around in His goodness at any opportunity? Do I just live life with Him, letting them see and hear and feel my journey with a good Savior? And do I fill their empty spaces with His love? Do I live like Jesus to them, with them, near them? Is it in the living life with Him, and in the exposure and joy? If I can introduce them, will they hear and see and feel and love for themselves?
It's a big thing, this mothering business. If I had a how-to manual I would probably just feel the need to rebel against it, but sometimes it might be nice to be able to turn to the chapter on "How to teach your children humility," or "How to foster a healthy world view in your children raised in a small-town." Right now my days sometimes feel stuck in the little things-- in the pick-up-your-toys and eat-your-veggies and go-pee-in-the-potty and take-your-finger-out-of-your-nose kind of things. But I know, in the little slivers of time between baths and meals and time-outs, there are also opportunities to teach big things. And I'm muddling through them. I'm trying. I'm exposing. I'm praying.
I'm just trying to creating opportunities to romp in the grass, to love a sister, to read a book, to see Jesus, just as I try to get outside, love my own sister, read my books, and see Jesus for myself.