By Jackie Saulmon Ramirez | April 8, 2015
Unless you are a mind reader, if a person gives you a job, the first thing you need to know is how they want it done – it’s the same with children.
Parents make many requests of children in a day and most we do not truly think through. When we ask children to do a chore like ‘carry the shopping bags inside’ or ‘take care of the leaves on the deck,’ it may seem so simple that we neglect to provide explicit directions. A child may bring the bags inside but leave them by the front door rather than to the kitchen where they belong. The child might sweep the leaves off the deck yet leave the unsightly mess around the deck rather than mulch the leaves them or put them by the curb.
My brothers and I did many such chores and sometimes our parents would frown at our childish logic. Dad told fifteen-year-old Mickey once, “Build a trough for the hog pen today.” Mickey took three small planks and turned out a trough that looked more like a small doll crib. The hog trough should have been at least five times that size. Dad wasn’t laughing; “How could a farm boy make such a mistake?”
Mom told me one day, “Pick the green beans then wash them good.” Still new to gardening I did as she asked; I picked the beans— a whole bushel— and then went to the horses’ water trough and washed the beans by dunking them up and down. Today I know a horses’ trough is not sanitary but as a twelve-year-old child I was clueless. I did as I was told so why was she so mad?
A mother in my Parents Anonymous group told us about an experience she had with her sixteen-year-old daughter to illustrate a point. Charlotte said, “I wrote my daughter a note to take the lasagna out of the freezer and put it in the oven at 4 p.m. When I got home I saw she put the lasagna in the oven but she neglected to turn the oven on and the lasagna was still frozen.” Charlotte admitted the joke was on her; the daughter had done everything she had asked.
For a high school English assignment once, a teacher asked us to describe an air conditioner to someone in the jungle that never had electricity. The exercise made us think about words to use and how to explain step-by-step how you get cold air from a box. When children are learning something new they need precise instructions with every step needed to complete the task for the first time. Subsequently instructions may not be required but it helps to ask.
If my father had given clear instructions – with measurements – Mickey might have done the job correctly and not wasted lumber. With precise instructions I would have washed the beans as they should have been. And Charlotte would have enjoyed a restful dinner instead of having to cook when she got home.
Giving children clear, detailed directions are a must if you want a task done correctly. Children may need the steps written down rather than trying to remember everything. Complete instructions can also save time and money in the long run rather than having to redo an assignment.
Did you or your kids ever get an assignment wrong? What happened? How were things changed to prevent future mistakes?
WEEKLY QUOTES: Forgiveness
The most important trip you may take in life is meeting people halfway. ~Henry Boye
It’s easier to ask forgiveness than it is to get permission. ~Grace Hopper
The bitterest tears shed over graves are for words left unsaid and for deeds left undone. ~Harriet Beecher Stowe, Little Foxes, 1865
When you realize you’ve made a mistake, make amends immediately. It’s easier to eat crow while it’s still warm. ~Dan Heist
The only correct actions are those that demand no explanation and no apology. ~Red Auerbach
It is easier to forgive an enemy than to forgive a friend. ~William Blake
Never ruin an apology with an excuse. ~Kimberly Johnson
True remorse is never just a regret over consequence; it is a regret over motive. ~Mignon McLaughlin, The Neurotic’s Notebook, 1960
Apology is a lovely perfume; it can transform the clumsiest moment into a gracious gift. ~Margaret Lee Runbeck
If you were going to die soon and had only one phone call you could make, who would you call and what would you say? And why are you waiting? ~Stephen Levine
Keep your words soft and tender because tomorrow you may have to eat them. ~Author Unknown
In some families, please is described as the magic word. In our house, however, it was sorry. ~Margaret Laurence
An apology is a good way to have the last word. ~Author Unknown
Remember, we all stumble, every one of us. That’s why it’s a comfort to go hand in hand. ~Emily Kimbrough
Not the fastest horse can catch a word spoken in anger. ~Chinese Proverb
Copyright © 2014 Jackie Saulmon Ramirez. All Rights Reserved.
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