Do you worry that this child of yours who doesn’t seem to be “getting it,” who you have to tell over and over and over the same thing, this child who can never focus long enough on one thing to accomplish it, who “forgets” ….this sweet, loving, creative dreamer, who is frustrating you to death…
that this child will always be this way, and never amount to anything?
I had a dreamer. One who didn’t seem to be able to focus and concentrate long enough to finish anything well. This one who had great energy, great creativity, who was so sweet and charming, but who frustrated me to death.
As part of a Homeschooling Accreditation Organization called Teach, from the time she was about 9-years-old, I wrote a monthly evaluation of our daughter’s positives and negatives. Looking at these forms, I can see a thread running through my comments, as I read over and over: “She has a hard time concentrating.” “She needs to focus, be more disciplined.” “I don’t know how to motivate her.” “She can do anything, if she wants to.” (But she doesn’t seem to care.) “Needs to listen better, to be more attentive.” “Takes forever to finish her math.” “Is easily distracted.”
A Good Attribute Misapplied
One of her attributes has always been that she sees everything around her. Not just sees it, but takes notice and studies it. As a child, she would make up entire stories, with plots and themes and sub-characters, about the people we saw and the scenes we witnessed as we drove to piano lessons, or while shopping in the local WalMart. When we went as a family out to a restaurant, we’d have to encourage her to “join us at our table” because she’d be physically there, but watching everyone and everything else in the restaurant, thoroughly enjoying herself. I would sometimes purposely place her with her back to the people.
Distracted was her middle name. Dilly-dally, dawdle and waste time were phrases made for her.
“I See Myself In Her and I Don’t Like It”
One of the chronic parenting problems is seeing your own failings in your child and reacting to them. In my growing-up years I struggled with poor time management skills, not following through or finishing what I started, so I desperately wanted her to avoid the pain and frustration I had experienced by these character traits. I had been a chronic underachiever. I wanted better for her. She had so much going for her, and seeing her waste her potential was so frustrating!
Two Different People
Fast-forward to the present. At times it’s hard to remember that she was ever this child, because of the woman she’s become. She gets so much done. She creatively designs projects and sees them through. She can pack so much into a day, it’s amazing. She’s loved, trusted, looked to for help, depended upon, a good friend, a wonderful server, beloved by everyone who knows her.
She ministers, leads groups, takes care of children and is extremely responsible. Her discipline puts me to shame.
Did it just happen? Did it happen overnight? What were things that we, as parents, did to help and train her? What were some keys that unlocked her motivation, and helped her develop discipline. What changed our distracted dawdler, who had difficulty finishing anything, into a motivated leader and finisher of tasks?
These are questions I’ll begin to answer in the next post, so continue reading tomorrow to see how God transformed a little caterpillar into a beautiful butterfly.