Tuesday, April 22, 2014
Do You Weed Your Garden?
A couple days ago my mother had a particularly bad shopping experience with my 7 and 8-year-old terrorists at Fresh Market. They were being so unruly she threatened to never take them shopping with her again. My mother is usually much more tolerant of their antics than I am, so I knew they had been bad.
When I arrived at the folk's house to pick the kids up they were in the kitchen quietly reading, looking like little angels. I was informed they had been racing shopping carts, complete with sound effects and wheelies, and continued to do so after being told numerous times to stop. Add to that the constant bickering that has been going on lately and it's no wonder my mother was at her wit's end.
I asked the usual questions; "Was that appropriate? Did they not want to be allowed to go shopping with grandma anymore? What made them decide they didn't have to listen? Did they want me to sell them on eBay?" OK, maybe not the last one. My step-dad looked up from his book and said; "You had better weed your garden well tonight." Growing up in his house, I had heard that statement numerous times, but I could tell by the looks on the children's faces that they had no idea what he meant.
On the way home I explained what it meant to weed your garden.
Me: "When you weed a garden, what do you do?"
7 yo: "You pull the weeds out of the plants."
Me: "Why do you do that?"
8 yo: "Because you don't want weeds in your plants. They are bad and can overrun the plants you really want there."
Me: "When you lie your head down on your pillow at night, you must always think about your day and decide if you were the best person you could be. All the good parts are the plants you want to grow and the weeds are things you could have done better. Did you treat others with kindness and respect? Did you try your hardest at whatever you were doing? Were you a good listener? If there are any parts of your day that you think you could have handled better, you make a note of them and tell yourself you will try harder tomorrow."
Every day we are faced with decisions, from what to have for breakfast to how to handle the kids when they are misbehaving. There isn't a day that goes by that I don't lose my patience at least a zillion times. While I may not always be able to stop myself in the moment, each evening I have the opportunity to take an honest look at my day and what I could have done differently.
Weeding your garden doesn't stop when you become an adult; it becomes even more important. As grow-ups we have to set the best example we can for our kids. That doesn't mean we won't have moments where we show our asses, but recognizing it and making an effort to do better helps us continue to grow. I reflect on how I handled the rowdy kids at the grocery store when I lie down a night. I pluck the weeds of my day and water the plants I am proud of in hopes becoming a better person and a better example for my kids.
How about you, do you weed your garden?