Everything’s Brok en

“What broke today?”  Those were the first words Daddy said daily as he arrived home from work. Yes, something broke every day.  It was at least a something.  Sometimes it was multiple somethings.

Yes, there were the typical household issues such as a broken vacuum, dish washer, dryer, pedal on the stationary bike, leg of the mini trampoline, tub drain, bathroom door lock, sliding closet doors off the  track,  a bowl, a glass, a jar of jelly, the garbage disposal and the car battery.   Everyday usage wears things out.   BUT if you have children, and particularly active boys, then you have additional breakage.

They weren’t necessarily being malicious or abusive.  They were just very busy, childishly careless and naïve.   There were times that even I, with a clear memory of my own childhood filled with accidents and carelessness, was exasperated.

March 30th.  My sons were 9 months, 2.8 and 5.8 years old. They were all three playing boys in benchtogether.  Their play was happy and cooperative and creative.  The two older boys were giving rides to their littlest brother.  He was seated in an upside down step-bench.  They pushed the bench along the inside circle of the house – through the living room, down the hall, through the little bedroom, across the kitchen, around the corner of the dining room and back to the start. (It was so adorable I even took a photo.) All of the flooring was not the same and so some of the pushing was easier than in other areas.   What they didn’t notice was that a slightly too-tall screw in a threshold between the bedroom and kitchen was gouging the bottom of the seat (the top of the bench) with every pass around the circle.  Damage was done that was not intended.

 

This was the same day that the # 2 son, who was 2.8 years old, had also managed to break the leg off a dining room chair and bend the chandelier when he swung from it like a monkey.  He also pulled up little baby plants in a starter garden box in the window.  I needed three sets of eyes and I didn’t have them. The poor boy had to stand for a few meals while his father repaired his chair.

Toys were broken every day as the boys played with them. I could manage the simple gluing of parts, if that was a sufficient fix, but gluing plastic did not always work.  Daddy handled the bigger repairs, particularly with anything electrical or electronic.   But the boys were watching and learning.

I will never understand why my mom thought it was a good idea to give each of the children a  real-glass snow globe. They were cute and each one was unique.  But, Glass.   Of course, each one eventually became a wet mess of glass and glitter on the floor.  Some lasted longer than others.

The most frequent repairs were to G.I. Joe figures.  The boys eventually learned to take the screw out from the man’s back to expose the inner rubber band which held the legs and arms in place.   They knew exactly what size rubber band was needed to replace the broken one.

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As they got older, and their toys became more expensive, they were more responsible and careful with them, but also more adept at the repairs.   They had laser guns which they repeatedly rebuilt.

Many lessons could be learned from broken stuff.

  1. When it is broken I can’t play with it. I have to be patient while it is being repaired.
  2. How tools are used, where to find them, and to put them back in their place.
  3. Tools can be dangerous, even glue. Respect them.
  4. If it is too broken to repair and I have to replace it, then I can’t spend my money on something else.
  5. Try to fix it. It is already broken.  Nothing can be further lost.
  6. Through making repairs one learns how things work.
  7. Stuff can last longer than expected.
  8. I will respect others’ stuff more if I am responsible for replacing what I break.

My three sons now have their own homes and their own children to keep them busy repairing stuff.

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Kids and Resolutions

Resolutions involving kids usually have to do with one’s desire to in some way be a “better” parent. They often are something like the following:  I will read aloud more to my kids, I will be a better listener, I will be more patient with my kids, or I will do a better job of monitoring screen time.   I propose a different kindof resolution for 2018.

Goals, Smarat How about a family resolution? Together, make a plan that is S.M.A.R.T.  (see goal setting chart).   School age children (5+) through teens probably will be willing to participate in such an experience.   Start the exercise with some brain storming where all ideas are recorded and none are evaluated.     After collecting all the ideas begin to evaluate and eliminate.    Try to shrink the list down to two or three that everyone agrees upon.  Then further examine those to discover if each is truly a S.M.A.R.T. goal.   If your family is a democracy, then vote.  Perhaps parents could each have two votes so that the children don’t overrule.

A secondary idea is a family focus or theme for the year.  This is not my original idea, but I really like it.  This could also be chosen through the family brain storming and elimination method.    The possibilities are endless.  Here are a few ideas: Year of Joy, Year of Gratitude,  or  Year of Grace. “Grateful, Thankful, Blessed” is a popular saying.  Perhaps it could be a springboard for ideas.   The theme does not have to be a character trait or a virtue but could be something fun such as, the Year of Color or  the Year of Running.

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Once the theme is chosen, a placque or banner could be created to be a daily reminder.   Perhaps a scripture could be chosen to be memorized.   Play an on-going game of who can most quickly identify references to the theme in music, movies, audio books, sermons . . . .    Commend each other for living and practicing your chosen theme.  Plan some activities, adventures or experiences to understand and apply the theme.

Use your creativity to discover ways to incorporate the theme in your family life.  Establish some fun reminders to keep everyone on track.  Don’t become rigid or legalistic.

January is a great time to establish a yearly family theme or resolution.   But they can happen at any time. Some other “start” times might be the beginning of summer, a new school year or school semester, any holiday, the first of any month, or whatever time works best for your family. January is not the only time we can begin something new.

We all appreciate a fresh start or a do-over sometimes. I think this is the appeal of a new year.   God, by his grace, gives us this when we confess our sin and He forgives us.   A tangible way to demonstrate this to our children is to forgive or do away with the punishment our children deserve. Yes, it is important for them to learn about consequences and be responsible for their behavior. But, I also believe that somewhere in their learning there is a prime opportunity to offer forgiveness so that their hearts can be softened rather than become more rebellious. This could happen in the Year of Grace.

May this be a great year for your family.