When was the last time you sat down to do a puzzle, paint a picture, mould something with play doh, make some fairy bread or cut and paste using glitter? Or how about this: when was the last time you used a dropper to release drops of intensely coloured water onto a paper towel? I just had all of those experiences. It was awesome. In fact, it was therapeutic, and even.……life changing!
So, following my most recent experience of kinder duty with my 5 year old son this morning, I would like to share some of my random yet profound revelations and lessons.
Are you ready? Here goes…
Revelation #1: It is incredibly difficult to think through your concerns, your to-do-list and your worries whilst totally lost and engrossed in a fun and creative activity.
Lesson #1: How often do you decline a creative exercise or a fun outing because you don’t feel like it or because you are not in the mood? Do you ever convince yourself that you would be better company, and have more fun if you took up the opportunity once you got your ‘stuff’ sorted? The truth of the matter is that our ‘stuff’ is so greedy and so unrelenting. Don’t let it rule your life.
Have you ever considered the fact when your mind is in overdrive processing life’s endless demands, it becomes exhausted and results in greater weariness? It’s much like exercising strenuously and continually throughout the day. Consider the trauma on your body that would cause. Why is it that we do that to our brain? Take time out, despite how you feel. It’s good for your soul.
Revelation #2: You will experience excitement and gratitude more often when you have realistic expectations of other people.
Lesson #2: It’s truly fascinating to sit and watch a teacher get excited over the fact that her class of four and five year olds know and can recognise their initials. I believe the reason why she can get so animated stems from the fact that her expectations of those children are achievable. If the teacher’s benchmark was that her students were to write their names in cursive font, holding their pen correctly in their right hand with three fingers, she may not get so excited about mastery over initials.
How often in life do we fail to give people praise, recognition and encouragement because what they deliver is so far below what we expect? It may be your children, it may be your spouse, it may be your employees, your family, your friends or your team. When was the last time you looked at the expectations you have of people in your world and asked yourself; “Are my expectations fair and reasonable?” and “Why am I always under impressed with people in my world?”
Revelation #3: We will see greater progress and self-development when we tap into our feelings and label them differently.
Lesson #3: It’s funny how the little things in life can fascinate us. Whilst on kinder duty I found myself expressing probably a little too much excitement over buckets filled with a mixture of corn flour and water. The children called it “goop” – but I’m more inclined to call it a science experiment. You see, when you slide your fingers through it quickly it becomes runny, and when you slide your fingers through it slowly, it hardens up like wet cement. Anyway, NO, I didn’t have a deprived child hood, so I should just move on!
What caught my attention was the way that the teachers repeatedly asked the children; “What does it feel like?” as they ran their fingers in the ‘goop.’ As the teachers kept probing on this, the children tilted their heads, looked up at the ceiling and blinked faster than usual in an attempt to label their feelings.
Have you ever considered that there are so many more labels and descriptives applicable to our feelings that we dare to consider? You see, when we are upset, we generally say we are sad, when we are excited we may say that we are happy, when we are down we may refer to that as flat. Personally, I believe that our progress and development is limited when we continue to label our emotions with such generic touch and go phrases. For example, the next time you are “angry” why don’t you try and identify WHY you are angry. So are you feeling let down, resentful, bullied, envious, overlooked or insulted? Identifying our true emotions and feelings can heighten our self-awareness and mobilise us towards change.
Revelation #4: We must own the mess we sometimes create, and get a can-do attitude towards recovery.
Lesson #4: Whilst most of the children sat on the mat by the teacher’s feet at kinder this morning, a group of three busily fussed about trying to clean their art and craft corner. On realising that these little ones were holding up the rest of the children, I went over to offer some assistance until I was called back by the teacher who said; “It’s OK Suzie, they made the mess, they will clean it.”
What a tremendous life skill to be taught, that when we make a mess – which sometimes we do – with our decisions, words or behaviours, it remains our responsibility to clean it up. I consider the number of times in my life where I have created a ‘mess’ and called on God to fix it. Although He can, and He often does, I must remember, it’s my mess.
Some of my ministry and learning and development work aims to provide people with the tools and strategies to be able to develop a can-do attitude and the practical skills required for repairing the mess, and moving towards greatness. Sometimes the mess is huge, other times it’s just a few bits and pieces that litter a small area of our life. Whatever the mess, we can take steps towards cleaning it up – if we start today.
Who would have thought kinder duty would be so life changing!