Monday, January 31, 2011

Making a BIG mess or just stretching their collaborative muscles?

How is it that our kids can get into the biggest messes when they are together? My husband and I were just talking recently about how different our boys can be when they are together than when they are apart. They are so much less devious, when they are playing on their own. I'm no saint here, either. If you talk to my mother, she can quickly recount the top-five greatest disasters in our home — at the hands of me and my older brother.

You know what I'm talking about... There are those days when they make those really BIG messes — when things were just a little too quiet. At first, you are mildly pleased that they are playing so nicely together. 

No fighting. No yelling. Ah, life is good. 

Then, your optimism turns to skepticism, as you begin to suspect that they're probably making one of those big disasters. So, you take those brisk steps to the room, say a little prayer, take a deep breath, and open the door. Either you'll laugh or cry at the discovery. Hopefully, you can get to the laughing before crying; but you get the idea.

A few weeks ago, I had an epiphany about these crazy times. Yes, they seem to get in bigger messes, when they work together. In reality, they are beginning to learn how to collaborate. This is not a bad thing. This is a very important life skill. Being able to work well with others is crucial for group projects in school or college, and many companies are looking for people that can work well on their own and in a group. We've all seen the job postings. They include phrasing, such as: must work well in team environment or work well in a group.

I can now see how this has applied to my own childhood. There were definitely times, as I was growing up with three brothers, that I didn't think I could get along with all of them. However, those struggles helped to lay the foundation of dealing with different personalities in a group setting. 

Now, don't get me wrong... I am NOT encouraging my kids to make huge messes in the name of collaboration. This insight just gave me a little more patience in cleaning up their masterpieces. I also want to find ways activities for them to work together — constructively. 

Most of us have heard the old adage, "Many hands make much work light." There are several variations of this, but our kids seem to pick this up naturally, albeit it can be pretty frustrating at times. I just have to remember that they are developing life-long skills, and it is my job as a parent to harness and steer it in the right direction. What an honor!


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