I have been putting off weeding around my house the last few weeks. When we moved into this house I asked the real estate company to put rocks around the house. I didn’t want grass that had to be cut and weeded. I forgot to ask to have the black tarp put down before the rocks so there is still weeding that has to happen although it’s easy to know what belongs (white rocks) and what should go (anything green). In the last 2 or 3 years I’ve asked Nami Fujiwara, our gardener from school, to come once or twice a year to help. She was able to come Saturday! Thank you Nami, it looks fabulous. It got me thinking about the “gardens” that God has given us to tend to, of course our own lives but also our children and students.
We have 4 cedar trees that were planted by the real estate company. One is near to our front door and three are together in a corner of the yard. The one by the front door grew and grew. The first time that Nami came she said that it should be cut at the top to stop it from growing as the roots would not be strong enough if a strong wind came. Since that time she just trims it and shapes it. It was a reminder to me of the importance of our roots and the roots we help our children and students develop.
How do we help our children and students develop strong roots? We begin by having our own roots firmly planted. Psalm 1 tells us we should delight in the Lord and meditate on His word. Recently a friend shared an article titled 6 Words You Should Say Today. I think that one way to help your child to develop strong roots is to say, “I love to watch/hear/see you …” No pep talk, no coaching, just true joy and admiration to see your child performing or creating something. Let the teachers and coaches direct and guide and correct. That is not to say a parent should never direct, guide or correct, especially behavior. But how often do we as parents just enjoy our child’s performance without giving that one piece of advice. “It would have been much better if you just …””Next time you should …”
Recently I read an article about one of the differences in eastern and western education. There are many differences and like most things in life there is good and not so good in both systems. This particular article, which I can’t seem to find, was about perseverance. In western societies we tend praise the result or ability. “You are so smart.” “You are so fast.” “You are a gifted artist or singer.” The article spoke about in Japanese schools that perseverance is praised and encouraged. Do we as teachers and parents encourage a child to hang in there to keep trying and then when they accomplish something to praise the effort. “Look at what you were able to do when you stuck with it.” One of the skills that people say is necessary for the future is problem solving. We become good problem solvers by facing challenges and working to overcome those challenges. Often if something is not easy or takes time, students will give up or we jump in to help them. Let’s encourage and challenge them to persevere and then praise their efforts. “Look at what you accomplished by sticking with it.” “It was challenging but you were able to do it by hanging in there.”
Another lesson I took from looking at my garden had to do with space. I mentioned earlier that we had one tree by the front door that grew and grew and grew. These 3 trees were planted at the same time but didn’t grow near as tall. I know there are several reasons including the sunlight, but I think on reason is there are 3 in a rather tight space. I remember seeing a goldfish at my in-laws house that was at least 20 cm(about a foot) long. It started out about 5 cm(2 -3 inches). We had several goldfish at our home but they always stayed small. Then I discovered that a goldfish will grow to take up the space they are given. If there are several in a tank, they can’t grow too large but one goldfish in a relatively large tank will grow rather large. Children also need space to grow and try new things. This doesn’t mean total freedom, because just like the single tree growing too tall for its roots, a child needs some boundaries.
So, from my garden I have these lessons:
- Get rid of the weeds, sin, unnecessary things
- Make sure I have strong roots
- Help others to develop strong roots
- Provide space to grow
- Encourage perseverance
- Enjoy and celebrate others