Good things and hard things.

Yesterday kindergarten, today preschool screenings. It was nice though… almost too nice.

When you’re used to functioning on a high-energy expenditure level with lots of interruptions and constant prioritizing of decisions, sitting in an empty board room in silence while your scheduled every-15-minute preschooler and their parent come in to let you screen the child’s vision and hearing is actually hard.  You don’t know what to do with yourself and all that paced, focused time. It was nice though.

The head of my department told me he’s learning all about appreciation of focused time from his new son. Just being in the room with him is valuable. Multitasking is over-rated!

It’s hard to just be with a person and not have your attention divided by other things, like computers or email or T.V. or phones, etc. It’s good but it’s hard. It’s revealing. I like it.

A four year old was bribed with $2 to buy clothes for her babydoll by her mom today so she would let an un-named school nurse screen her hearing. WOW! I wonder what she’ll pay for getting homework done?

I understand, let’s just get this over with.  Will a buck get it over with?  How about two?  

Teaching children to do hard things without any obvious or immediate reward is hard, but it’s something we need to do. Building virtue is worth far more than a few less hours of hearing a crying child. I try to encourage the kids I come in contact with in a day to do hard things without any prize or reward. I find myself saying this a lot, “We all have to do things we don’t like sometimes. Doing things that are hard, that you don’t like, is necessary.”

My boys often hear me say, “I didn’t ask you if you liked it or if you wanted to.  Just do it.”   And, “No I’m not going to pay you or give you a special treat for doing that.  That’s part of being a family.  You do things you don’t like.  It’s part of living together.  One person can’t do everything.”  They don’t like it but one day I pray they’ll do things they don’t like for the greater good of those around them, not just so they can get what they want.

I’ve heard the arguments for giving rewards.  I agree with some of them.  I’ve used rewards.  I still do at times.  Incentives are necessary sometimes.  But learning to do what you don’t like to do without any immediate reward is even more necessary.  Most of life is filled with things we don’t like to do that give no immediate reward but are necessary for healthy relationships and communities.

I don’t like laundry.  Even when it’s finished I get no bonus check or special treat.  But I do get to wear clean clothes and so do my kids and husband, and we all like the smell of each other a lot more with clean clothes on.

I don’t like doing dishes.  When they dishes are done I get no satisfaction, no happy face sticker, no Starbucks gift card.  But my family and I do get to eat off of clean plates and drink water without floaties in it. 

I like Starbucks gift cards by the way… even happy face stickers, but I think I enjoy them even more when they are given just because.  Not because I earned it, but because someone wanted to give it.

I try to do that with my boys.  They do a lot of work around this house that they don’t like and that they don’t get any immediate reward for doing.  At times I’ll pick up some Chips Ahoy or an Izzy drink just because, and give it to them.  I want them to learn to do hard things without a reward or prize for the greater good.  And I want them to enjoy special things in life.  Things that are gifts that we all are so graciously given.  Not because they were earned.  Sweet things, and smiles, and pats on the back, and beauty.  It’s nice to be the recipient of something you weren’t thinking you were entitled to.

There’s a place for earning a wage, a place for incentives and a place for hard-work with no immediate reward. 

 Whoever works his land will have plenty of bread, but he who follows worthless pursuits lacks sense. – Proverbs 12:11


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