Have you ever been underestimated?
I was underestimated in college by my Language Arts professor. It was one of my first classes in the Education Department and I was a little naive. The first day of class I found out that I would have to do 30 hours of field practice and submit a portfolio on my work.
I panicked. I had no idea when I would get in 30 hours of classroom experience because I already worked full time during the day and exactly during school hours. Plus I coached volleyball right after school to make extra money. I talked to my professor after class and explained to her my situation (I left out the part about paying for college myself, being married to a man with an addiction, living in a city where I had no family, etc.) I only told her I already worked at a school as a Teacher’s Aide and I wasn’t sure when I could get additional hours in. I asked if I could count some of my job hours since I was working with kids anyway. She looked at me like I was a pathetic whiner and said, “No, you can’t count any work hours. You are going to have to figure something out.”
I knew she did not think I would be able to do it. She was rude to me and looked down on me all semester. I had to come up with a plan. I decided to use every lunch break at work as time to log hours at a nearby elementary school. The teacher I worked for let me leave 5 minutes early for lunch and I would run across a large field, climb a chain link fence, and then run across the playground to the elementary school.
My 3rd grade mentor teacher was kind enough to let me come in for 20 minutes every day and do whatever I had to do. Then I would run back through the playground, climb the fence again, and run back across the field to the Jr. High where I worked. I skipped lunch every day and over the course of the semester I mastered the art of climbing and running in a dress in the snow. It was Idaho after all.
You can gather how long it took me to get 30 hours at 15-20 minute increments.
As the semester drew to a close, I pulled all-nighters to compile an awesome portfolio of my work. I resisted the urge to flip Mrs. Bird the bird as I gave her the binder. I knew I had sacrificed much to pull this off.
My professor passed back the portfolios a few days later. I got a 100%. After class she pulled me aside and said something like, “Tiffany, I have to apologize to you. After that first day of class, I didn’t think you would amount to much. I didn’t think you could pull it off, but I want you to know this is the best Language Arts portfolio I have ever seen.”
I left that room 2 inches taller and with a solid confidence in my ability to do hard things. I knew I was someone never to be underestimated.
So why did I tell you this story? Well, first I wanted my kids to have record that their mom knows how to do hard things, but second, is that I wanted to relate it to parenting.
Like my teacher underestimated me, I think we often underestimate our children. We don’t think they are capable of doing certain chores or assignments. We baby them along. We don’t give our kids tasks because we think they can’t do them or we don’t want to take the time to see if they can. But I bet our kids are like my college self, they can do it and more!
Croft reminded me of this principle. She begged me for several weeks to wash the dishes but I kept saying no because I didn’t want the mess, the extra time, and I wasn’t sure how a 4 year old was going to wash cookie sheets. Then I gave her a chance. She actually does a pretty dang good job and she isn’t afraid to tackle the stuck on messes that I want to “soak”. She worked on a glass casserole pan for several minutes recently.
Crew makes his bed every(almost) morning, empties trash, brings garbages off curb and is learning to fold his jeans. I am also having him help out in the kitchen more.
Elle is learning to babysit, clean bathrooms, vacuum, and iron. She is also in charge of making her own lunch for school.
Here is a list of jobs kids could do around the house:
Wash windows, walls, and baseboards
Set the table
Load and unload the dishwasher
Make a sandwich
Wash off the table
Peel carrots, potatoes, other vegetables
Make pancakes, cookies or anything out of a box
Clean toilets and sinks
Sort dirty clothes
Fold clean clothes
Put clothes away
Pick fruit and veggies from the garden
Pick out outfits
Take a shower / Wash hair
and so much more…
Let’s not underestimate our kids. They can do more than we give them credit for. Challenge them. Stretch them. Require them to do hard things. Responsibility shows that we trust them. And when we show confidence in their abilities, their own confidence and character grows.