Lessons from the Library

During the summer, I spend a lot of time at the library. Maybe it’s the educator in me, or maybe it’s my infatuation with books. It may have something to do with the fact that my kids love the library like it’s an amusement park full of exciting journeys that they can’t wait to take. I love the opportunity of the library, where any crack of the spine can be an opening to a new world view or even a new life.

But this week, my most recent lesson from the library did not come from a book. It came from a simple encounter between a mother and daughter at the self-service check out.

I love how blogging gives me the opportunity to use my keen sense of observation and not be accused of eavesdropping, by the way.

In this moment, this mom was working with her daughter and allowing her to “help” process the books. One of them was scanning the barcodes and the other was putting the cards in the back pockets. It’s something I and many moms and dads do daily, having the kids help with an activity or chore. It’s also the kind of thing that gets lost in the shuffle of a busy day when it’s just easier to do it yourself. But this mom took her parenting to the next level in such an effortless way that I just had to share. When we think of teaching, we often think of the instructor at the front of the class or even sometimes a slick lesson that comes after a child has gotten caught doing something wrong. But what I loved in this moment is that this mom, taught her daughter two lessons, and I’m sure her daughter didn’t even know she was learning.

The little sweet faced girl looked to be about 5 years old. Her mom made a simple statement, something to the effect of, “Wow, this is going so fast with you helping me!” I have spoken in workshops about how children build confidence by learning that they can contribute. Feeling responsible and that they can help, teaches them that they have value. We can construct family economy systems that demonstrate this principle, paying kids for chores and such, but what if we just organically found ways throughout the day to make it known to our child that we appreciate the things that they add to our lives?

The little girl responded. “Yea,” she said. “It is more quicker this way”. Even typing this, my spell checker is screaming at me to correct my grammar. And that’s what so often happens in life. We have good intentions, we want to make sure that our children make the right decisions, we want them to be dressed properly and presentable, so we correct them when they are wrong. But what this mom did next made her my post for today.

Her response, “You’re right, it is much quicker this way.”

She didn’t “correct” her daughter; she “reflected” to her exactly what she meant in the most appropriate way. This gave her a chance to both confirm for her daughter that she was listening, that she understood, and that she agreed with her opinion and give her a mini lesson on grammar without accidentally making her feel like she had done something wrong.

What a wonderful gift she gave her in a momentary exchange on a rainy Monday evening, and a wonderful gift she gave me. Like all good gifts, sharing is caring, so I hope you enjoy and might look for a few hidden ways to teach your kids today.

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