These homework lessons are a nightly routine every Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.
Bray with one child in his office. Me with another on my lap in the big leather chair. Another wandering around waiting for his or her turn.
We have books to read and words to practice for school homework. Every Thursday morning we send back the signed paper attesting to our hard work three nights in a row. Each Thursday at school, they get a sticker of recognition.
Tonight we really struggled. The eldest had brought home the hardest book we’d received to date. He tried sounding words out and looking at the pictures for reference, but some words evaded him. We would make it through one page only to turn to another page with new words. With each page he would look up at me and say, this book is hard, Mom!
It took a long time to work through it. The beauty is that every night gets easier and by Wednesday night most words are mastered and the reading becomes fun. But this was a Monday with a new book filled with more challenges, and we had to fight through each page.
One of the things I admire most about this child is his perseverance. He has an attitude of perseverance with nearly every task he faces. It takes him a long time, and it takes mom or dad more patience than comes naturally, but he works at it until he has the new skill (swimming, soccer, reading, board games…).
I watched him sigh and tackle each new word on each new page and thought, the lessons will only be harder next week. You’re going to struggle through this and get so much better and then it will get harder next week. And you’ll have to learn even more and take even longer.
Do you ever feel life is like that?
You think you’ve passed the course, but you’ve only passed this week’s lesson. Oh and next week’s lesson is harder. And it takes longer to understand. Heck, sometimes you never even understand one particular week’s lessons.
You think you’ve mastered your career or your marriage or your family or your friendships or parenting or your project or your time, and then bam, Monday night hits. You find yourself angry or sad or impatient or frustrated or overwhelmed because you thought you’d already figured this lesson out. You didn’t know it was just going to get harder.
And maybe not for you, but for me, my childhood perseverance seems in shorter supply as an adult. When a new Monday lesson hit me today, I moaned to a girlfriend at how frustrated I was at myself for not being able to manage the curve ball better. Or at the very least, not anticipating a harder lesson was around the bend.
Here’s the hope: Wednesday night comes. Maybe we never entirely master the lesson perfectly, but it gets easier. And we’ve learned something new. And we’ve fought through the lesson until we know more at the other side. Then that particular book, well, we can manage it. More lessons are up ahead next week, that’s for sure, but if we can just sigh like my strong boy and tackle it headfirst, there’s a reward waiting. Think of it as a life experience book full of stickers for a life well-lived full of perseverance which yielded much wisdom and (ultimately) joy.
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Defining the problem is 20%. Moaning is okay (and normal) … But solutions are about taking responsibility AND meaningful and measurable action. That’s the 80%. Good luck.