“Be willing to be uncomfortable. Be comfortable being uncomfortable.
It may get tough, but it’s a small price to pay for living a dream.” – Peter McWilliams
Often times we get so protective of our young ones that we give them opportunities to thrive based on our own stories and experiences. I know it comes from the best place possible, but I can’t help wonder if I am pushing my kid enough to bring out the best in them?
IS YOUR HOME A MINI TOY STORE?
I remember as a kid I had a favorite toy that I would use all the time. I rarely see that with today’s kids any more. Why? There are too many to chose from! Have you ever wondered what will happen if our homes were not mini toy stores? Will our kids be bored, or will they play a lot more?
I remember as a new mom several years ago when most plastic toys were plagued by toxicity issues, the thing that I used to buy for my son was wooden toys and puzzles. They were not many to come by and some were rather expensive, but not the puzzles. Obviously they didn’t make puzzles for tiny toddlers, but I bought puzzles to stimulate his interest in colors, shapes and alphabets.
Something very interesting happened, my son enjoyed the repetition of the few puzzles I made and he started to make them really young. He didn’t have much else for stimulation and became good at solving puzzles faster! Less was definitely better in our case :). I think when we have too much variety, it is distracting, probably over stimulating rather than allowing for more discovery and mastery when kids have just a few. Even if you have a lot of toys, use a few at a time. Once they are bored, you can bring out a few more and keep recycling to keep them engaged and curious!
When I had exhausted every $ store puzzle at the age of 2, I was at a Lakeshore store when my husband picked up a 25X25 piece puzzle, a threshold that my son was very comfortable with already. I laid my eyes on a 100 piece large floor puzzle which was for ages 8 -12. Much to my husband’s disappointment (he wanted to keep it age appropriate), I bought it. My son was fascinated by the size and the quality of a large puzzle! Initially with help from us and in a few weeks of trying it, he solved it rather quickly on his own!
My husband who was against the idea initially was very surprised with the results. And so we have kept the trend going – 4th grade reading and math, 3rd grade writing, middle school programming and adult level scriptural chanting all while still in Kindergarten. Needless to say we have always been challenging him with higher age appropriate learning wherever possible!
“Genius is 99% perspiration and 1% inspiration.” – Thomas Edison.
Along the way I have learned a ton of strategies that work well when it comes to challenging young kids without making it a burden on them to learn. For anybody who is passionate about teaching kids will know that unless they are really excited and want to do more of what they enjoy learning, it cant be done. And definitely not in the traditional sit down instructional approach! The key is making learning enjoyable, then there are no limits or age appropriateness to the rate of absorption!
My question to you is why should the store decide what your kid is capable of doing or for that matter, even the school? The child decides this based on his/her interests, encouragement and help from you! After all, Warren Buffett started studying the stock exchange at age 9, Bill Gates started programming at 13, and Mark Zuckerberg started networking computers in middle school.
A few decades later, even as we know much about great achievers, most kids don’t start these concepts at that age, since we are still stuck with the age appropriate challenges for our children. You might scoff it off as outlier.
‘Why dont we start them young?’ We have many real life examples to model from. You might wonder if it really works that way? Let me tell there is only one way to find out, just keep working at it.
PUSH, POLISH, MAKE THEM SHINE!
‘“Certainty is not a feeling, it’s a habit” – Tony Robbins
That being said, the best way to make it a Habit is to try, try again, fail and learn from it, till failure becomes an invaluable part of success! Yes it is hard work and nobody said it was going to be easy, to put things in perspective; I have a little story to share with you –
Today’s story is an old English tale, the story goes that an old lady went shopping for her granddaughter who was getting married! She was in the market for the finest china to gift at the wedding. After much looking, she laid her eyes on a fine set, carved and gleaming to perfection! She asked the storekeeper – “May I see that? I’ve never seen a cup quite that exquisite!.”
As the lady behind the counter carefully handed it over to her for a closer look, much to the lady’s amazement, the tea-cup began to speak!
“You wont believe it,” It said, “I have not always been this beautiful. I wasn’t even a tea cup to begin with! It all started when I was just a lump of plain potter’s clay. My potter took me in his bare hands. He carefully kneaded and joyfully pounded and patted me over and over till I became quite flexible. It was awfully painful and I felt like I lost all my strength.
I yelled out, Stop! Stop! That is really painful, don’t do that! “Let me go, drop me on the floor,” Alas, instead of listening to my angry pleas, he only smiled, and said kindly; “Not yet, be patient now, my dear!”
“Then BAM! I was placed on this crazy spinning wheel thing and suddenly I went round and round, spinning even faster on every round seeing stars and lights all over the ground. “Stop it! I’m spluttering and puking, and feeling awfully dizzy! Have mercy you wretched human, I am sick and tired of whatever you are doing!” I screamed! but to no avail.
The master potter only nodded gently and said in a quiet voice; ‘Not yet, I promise it will only get better from here on, hang in there my dear.’
And before I could take a deep breathe, he was at it again! He molded and punched and pressed and bent me inside out and then the most horrible thing happened! He threw me in to the fire! Yes!!! I went right inside a sweltering seething red hot oven. Oh! was it uncomfortable! I never felt such heat in a million years! I yelled my lungs out only for it to fall on deaf ears! “Help! I am burning to death here! Get me out I beg you, please get me out”
‘In a minute dear’ I heard a faint voice, When I thought I was goner, the door opened. He carefully took me out and put me on the shelf, and I began to steam out, cool off! I can’t even begin to tell you how it felt! Freedom at last, it was so good! “Thank goodness, the madness is over!” I thought. But, after I cooled down and settled in, he had more in store for me…
He picked me up, brushed me thoroughly, those rough brushes were so mean, I felt like I was getting whiplashed! Yikes and after much “Aaahs, and Oohs and ouches, it finally stopped. Now I had a different type of brush, this one was a dainty kind, much gentler but paint, oh! Were the fumes nasty! My eyes hurt, I was choking and suffocating, until I blurted out once again, “Oh, for the love of God, please, Stop it! Stop it!” I wailed.
He only shook his head and said. “Almost there dear…” Then suddenly my worst nightmare played out again, he put me back into the oven! Not the crazy hot oven, but a doubly crazy hot oven! What did I do to deserve this?!? I protested, I cried, I begged I ran out of words and hope… I was convinced it was the end. I couldn’t believe I was still feeling and not gone, just as I was about to close my eyes and let it all happen, the fateful door which I wanted to open a while ago, finally opened!
He took me out – His eyes we shining in amazement, his grin was broader than his face! He placed me on the shelf, where I cooled, recovered and recouped. I waited and waited, anticipating his next wild move, wondering “What’s he going to do to me next?” A day passed by and I got comfortable with my new home and he arrived- As his hands gently picked me up, I was all nervous for the next crazy adventure that he was going to put me through, but this time to my utter surprise, he handed me a mirror and said “Look at yourself, dear, what a fine piece you make!” And I did…
I gasped for words, “Is that me? I mean really? Its me? I wondered aloud!!!. It’s incredibly beautiful! I.. I am beautiful!”
As usual in his soft voice, he spoke: “Yes, I want you to remember, then,” he said, “I know it hurt to be kneaded and patted, but had I just left you alone, you’d have dried up. I know it made you puke and dizzy to spin on the wheel, but if I had stopped, you would have crumbled. “I know it was unbearable and very scary in a hot oven, but if I hadn’t put you there, you would have cracks all over. I know the fumes were awful when I brushed and painted, but if I hadn’t done that, you never would have been sturdy. You would have no color or character. “And if I hadn’t put you back in that oven a second time, you wouldn’t have survived in the long run because the hardness would not have held. Now you are one of the finest piece of China in the world! You are what I had in mind when I first started with you.” Go shine, for that is what my eyes always saw in you!
“Be willing to be uncomfortable. Be comfortable being uncomfortable. It may get tough, but it’s a small price to pay for living a dream.” – Peter McWilliams