Last month, I decided that I would try my hand at knitting. Last week, I bought a set of knitting needles on clearance at a store that is going out of business. Tonight, I tried to knit, emphasis on the word "tried".
Sitting down with my one page computer printout of "How To" instructions, a desire to learn, a new skein of green yarn, purchased from a yard sale, and my new needles, I was full of hope and anticipation. Then I tried to start... Who writes the instructions for these things anyway? Have you ever tried to read them? I turned my head sideways, I looked at them upside down, I crossed my eyes, I read them out loud, I stood on my head... No matter what I tried, understanding the instructions alluded me. They seemed to be written in Latin... or Chinese...
I tried and failed and tried again. Frustration had me sighing, pitching the needles, and vowing to give up. Finally, I got the first stitch to stay on the needle. Yes, I said "first stitch"! I kept trying. I had two, three, four stitches! Then I dropped my needle and had to start over... twice... *Sigh*... I now have two rows of enough stitches across my needle to make it wide enough to make a scarf... or maybe a potholder... all because I kept on trying!
Have you ever tried to teach your child something only to have them consistently fail at trying to perform the task set before them? Does it frustrate you? I wonder if our instructions sound like gibberish to them. I wonder how much it frustrates them. I wonder if they feel like giving up, throwing their "needles", or promising to never try again. I wonder if they keep on trying just simply to make us happy. I wonder if they take our frustration at the situation to mean that we are mad at them. I wonder if we discourage them by the manner in which we handle it and our lack of patience.
I learned some things today, things I should have learned long ago. I realized that maybe I am not always as clear as I think I am. I learned that when I try to teach my girls a new task, I really need to sit down with them and walk them through it step by step, showing them carefully how I want it done. I learned that it might help to show them, not just once, but two or three times. I learned that even though my children have a desire and acclamation to learn, unclear or hard to understand instructions may frustrate them to the point of quitting. I learned that my children's failures in learning to do a new chore, sew, write, read, or clean may be my fault, the fault of faulty instructions.
I made a new vow today. From now on, I will try my hardest to always be my clearest, breaking instructions down to the simplest form necessary. I vowed to not only tell my children how to do something, but to show them. I decided to actively teach, to truly train my children!