Simon Says

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Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.
Deuteronomy 6:5-7 New International Version (NIV)

Matthew has learned to play “Simon Says” in preschool.  He came home and was very excited to teach Lindsay how to play.  The trouble is that Lindsay gets so caught up in copying what he’s doing she’s never listening for him to say, “Simon says…”  Since there’s only two of them the game ends pretty quickly when he tells her she has to sit down because “Simon didn’t say.”  They laugh, she stands up, and the game begins again with Matthew still in Simon’s role.  Lucky for me Lindsay still enjoys the role of copying Simon.  I’m not sure how long that’s gonna last.

Last week at church we talked about raising our children with love and structure.  We all want our children to grow up to be good people, and as a Christian I want my children to grow up loving others and loving God.  Unfortunately, the only way to truly teach my children how to be like Jesus and follow God’s commandments are to model for them.  I have to constantly be the “Simon” that they’re copying.  I’m well aware of the fact that I am an imperfect person, so when I think about it being my responsibility to model what it means to follow Jesus…well, in no polite terms I honestly think “Oh man, we’re screwed.”  

Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good, to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and always to be gentle toward everyone.
Titus 3:1-2 New International Version (NIV)

I’m not sure I’m cut out for Simon’s job.  Seriously.  I’m not always obedient.  In fact, at my last job interview they asked me my greatest weakness and I told them, “I’m not going to do something just because someone tells me to.  There better be a good reason to do it.”  Brent hired me anyway.  Crazy man. 🙂  I’m not always “ready to do whatever is good” because sometimes I’m just pure lazy and it always takes more effort to be proactive.  I’d like to think I’m considerate and gentle, but not always.  Just ask my husband.  How am I supposed to model the characteristics of Christ when I am still learning myself?

 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,23 gentleness and self-control.
Galatians 5:22-23

Daily I struggle with patience.  I know all the tricks about positive reinforcement, redirection, and conflict resolution.  I’ve used them on students and have learned to manage a classroom with twenty-eight or more kids.  And yet every day I am more aware of the fact that I have absolutely no idea what I’m doing even after nine years of teaching.  I remember when I first started teaching at parent-teacher conferences parents would ask me questions like, “How do you get him to listen to you in class?  He sure doesn’t listen at home.”  Or “Can you tell him to do his homework please and listen to us? Because he looks up to you.”  I was young, I had no kids of my own and I very ignorantly thought, “Geeze, why can’t these parents control their own kids when I can control them and twenty-five others?  No wonder they have problems at home.  They must be terrible disciplinarians.”  I must admit that having veteran parents ask me, a first year teacher, my opinion on how to handle their children was a pretty huge self-esteem booster.  And then…I had kids of my own.

At church the minister said that one psychologist study said that from the ages of 0-10 kids believe that their parents know everything.  What Mom and Dad say is truth.  Hmmm…I’m wondering which study that was exactly because my kids certainly don’t demonstrate that.  I guess my kids are gifted.  Matthew was hanging out with me in my classroom after preschool one day (at four years old) and showed me the sign (American Sign Language sign) he had learned at school for BROWN.  He was actually signing BLUE.  I tried to gently correct him, but he wouldn’t hear it.

“No Mom, my teacher told me this was brown.”  He made a B hand-shape and twisted his little wrist right and left.

“Honey, that’s actually blue.  To do brown you keep your hand the same, but it’s by your cheek, like this.”  I used the same B hand-shape and slid it down my right cheek.

“You don’t even know.  My teacher told me it was this.”  He signed BLUE again.

At this point it didn’t matter that Mommy had been four credits shy of finishing an ASL interpreting program before she got pregnant.  It didn’t matter that Mom had been signing for over ten years and could explain all about correct hand-shape, movement, location, & palm orientation.  The more I thought about it, the more frustrated I became.  His teacher said?  I AM a teacher!  And I’d be willing to bet she only knows signs for colors and letters.  She’s using signs as an aide for Total Physical Response, but has no idea how to form a grammatically correct ASL sentence using those different signs.  What about Deaf culture?  What about…  It’s embarrassing to admit, but yes, my mind totally went to all those different places before I shook my head and sighed in defeat.  It wasn’t really worth arguing with him, was it?  (Obviously I thought about the answer to that question too long.)

“Umm okay buddy.”  Like I said, my kids must be gifted.

I find that the only time my kids trust what I say or what I do is when I don’t really want them to.  The whole leader thing seems to backfire when I least expect it.  You should hear Lindsay say, “Naaaafffew” with her finger pointed, eyebrows raised, head tilted and the inflection in her voice rising from low to high like I do when I’m warning Matthew about something he’s doing wrong.  Matthew has started saying, “Dang it!” which I never thought was a terrible phrase, but it sounds a whole lot different coming out of his mouth.  I didn’t TEACH them those things, did I?  Well, not intentionally.  But my kids have taught me that Simon doesn’t have to say…they’re going to copy anyway.

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Help me remember
The little hands that I’m holding
Were hands given to me by You.
Help me remember
When those little eyes are watching
It is my eyes they are looking into.

Help me remember
The words that I speak
Might be spoken by them someday.
May I only uplift, encourage, and comfort.
Please Father, guard what I say.

Help me remember
The same kindness I give
Might one day be given by them.
May I be selfless, understanding & patient
With my forgiveness having no end.

Help me remember
The steps that I take
Might be followed by little feet.
Help me walk down the narrow path
With Jesus in the lead.

Help me remember
To start each day anew.
May I teach lessons of love to our children
That will guide them home to You.

amen

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