Yesterday I bought a pack of banker’s boxes. Those are the great storage boxes that stack well, have lids for easy checking of contents, and are the perfect size so you don’t load them too heavy. And they come flat.
No problem, right? There are instructions on the bottom of the box to explain how to put them together. Totally easy.
So I started to remove the perforation from the first box, just like the directions say. And wow was it hard to tear. Mostly because it was the bottom of the box I had been trying to tear instead of removing the lid, which was a different perforation. Fortunately once I figured out that little mishap, I was able to put the box – and lid – together without referring to the instructions again.
That’s when the wee ones wandered over. Whatcha doin’, Mommy? asked Mister Man. I handed him a box and asked if he wanted to help since there were a whole lot to put together. I told him to follow the instructions on the bottom and then watched him work. He insisted he didn’t need instructions. And for the start of it, he didn’t. He got it set up into a rectangle, folded the bottom down, but then he tried to squeeze the sides in through the bottom, which is when I stopped him and insisted he look at the instructions. Nodding after his quick perusal, he finished his box.
Little Miss, of course, wanted to help, too. She wanted someone to show her what to do, and Mister Man happily obliged, giving her step by step instructions before we turned her loose with her own box. At which point she made a rectangle then turned it over and over, around and around, with a puzzled expression on her face. I don’t get it! she whined.
I smiled. My children are such very different learners. It never fails to surprise me how explaining things one way to Little Miss makes perfect sense to her while Mister Man is left scratching his head and vice versa. Mister Man is very much a visual and tactile learner. Little Miss is not. She’s an auditory and storytelling listener.
So I told her a story as we put the box together. Everyone was awake all night. Then they started to get tired. First the Mommy went to bed. She just lies down because she’s so tired. The babies were tired, too, but they decided to pray before they went to bed. See how they folded their arms like they’re praying? Then they went to sleep, too. The earth (box) turned and it was morning. Mommy woke up first. Then the babies woke up and stood up on either side. But oh no, Mommy was too tired, so she laid back down to go to sleep. And voila, we have our box!
She got it completely from the story. There were no questions, no hesitations after that. And my 10 boxes were put together in a matter of minutes with no crying, no tears, and only a tiny bit of frustration to start. I know that every child is different. It’s a mantra everyone preaches, but so often I forget that as a parent. I compare one child to the other. Or I treat them the same when I really can’t.
Situations like this are my reminder. It isn’t better or worse the way each child learned to put the boxes together. They both learned. They both did it right, but they needed different paths to get there. And that’s what I need to remind myself when I feel my blood pressure start to rise. When I’m getting frustrated, I have to remember that – quite likely – I was the one who didn’t give instructions in a way that allows the wee ones to figure out what they’re supposed to do. I need to change my tune to match their melodies, and that’s when our family will once again be in harmony.