Wednesday, December 4, 2013

A lesson in 'best'

Yesterday, my bubbly little kindergartner came bounding in the house after walking home from the bus with a 'very important message from the teacher'.  Her tone and word choice implied that she was mimicking exactly how her teacher has conveyed the information, an adorable nod to the pedestal upon which Brynn places the magical Mrs. J.  However, she didn't clue me right away as to the source of this message, so I was a bit confused {and attempting to wrangle a kid in the house and out of shoes while directing another to unpack his backpack}.

Loquacious 5 year old:  "Mommy, I need to make sure I get enough sleep tonight, I have to have a good breakfast in the morning, and it is super important that I'm tomorrow."

Multitasking mom: "Uh...okay.  Well, you always get a good night's sleep, eat breakfast every morning, and have never been tardy."

L5yo: "But it is VERY important that I do that tonight.  I can NOT be late tomorrow."

MM: " weren't late today, you weren't late yesterday, you won't be late tomorrow."

L5yo: "Okay.  Good.  Tomorrow is a VERY important day.  We are having a 'smartness test'."

MM: "A 'smartness test'?"

Interrupting 7yo: "Brynn, 'smartness' isn't a word.  {pause}  You won't do well if you use that word tomorrow."

MM: "Gav, knock it off. {internal smirk and high-five for his astute observation}  Brynn.  Tell me about this 'smartness' test.

L5yo: "I don't really know what it is."

I7yo: "Oh, that's grrrreat." {sideways glance met by my annoyed stare back in his direction}

L5yo: "Here, I have a paper all about it."

I7yo: "Don't you think you should have done that from the beginning?  

{smirk and high-five, dude.}

As it turns out, the 'smartness' test is in fact the CogAT, which will appraise the level and pattern of cognitive skill development for our loquacious 5 year old.  The school is testing every kindergartner, the results of which will be shared later in the school year.  I'm definitely intrigued to find out the results.  

Last evening, dinner came together relatively quickly thanks to the trusty crock pot, so we ate earlier than we're generally known for.  After kitchen clean up and the kids took their showers, we relaxed with a little Frozen Planet on Natgeo.  Brynn was very concerned with the time, asking how much longer until bed time, as if I would forget.  {ha!  trust me, that point in the day, it's down to the second"}

When I asked her if she just wanted to go to bed 'now' {twenty minutes earlier than her norm}, she happily bounced her curls up the stairs, brushed her teeth, and slipped into dreamland within two minutes of me closing her door.  {If only Raegan were that easy...}

This morning, she awoke bright-eyed and crazy-haired, which is most definitely not her norm.  Excited for her test?  You see, it's the month of December.  Which, in this house {and many others}, means we have one extra inhabitant making {more} messes and causing general mischief.  Yep.  The elf.  THE elf.  Our elf Oscar adds a mix of excitement and competition and frustration and anger and trepidation in our house, as each morning the 'race is on' to see who can spot him first.  As of this morning, I'm 0 for 3 in getting Gavin's spirits back up in time for school all because Brynn made it downstairs first and spotted the little creepy guy.  One could say I bring this on myself, but the excitement makes up for it.  {Okay.  I'll be honest.  Screw the kid's excitement.  I like that I can use him as a threat for good behavior, alright?  I'm out of ideas to get these kids to listen and behave.  Threats in the form of a red felted friend who tells Santa about their shortcomings is what gets me through from the day after Thanksgiving until Christmas Eve.  Guaranteed there are thousands of moms [and dads and grandparents and babysitters] who could give me an amen on that one.}

Aaaannyyyyhow....on our drive to school, Gavin was less than willing to participate in a conversation, still stewing over his defeat in the Great Elf Game.  So, after a Taylor Swift song ended, Brynn turned her attention to sharing a bit of herself with me.

Timid 5 year old: "Mommy, I am kind of worried about this test today.  What if it's hard?  What if I can't do it?  What if I get it wrong?"

Coffee-Wielding Mom: "Brynn..."

T5yo {who is now interrupting}: "I know, mommy...I just have to BE the best, I just have to do MY best."

CWM: "umm...yes, you are exactly right, Brynn.  {inner monologue: 'where in the heck did she come up with that?'}  
That is so.exactly.right.  Where did you hear that?"

T5yo: "I didn't hear it, I just thought of it."

CWM: "hmmm...well...that's pretty awesome, Brynn."

I7yo: "You'll be fine on your test today, Brynn."

It is pretty awesome when you realize that something you taught your kid actually sticks with them, and they utilize the lesson at an appropriate time, in order to do some good for others.  It's even more awesome when that 'thing' your kid learned and applied may not have even been a direct lesson you taught them, and they're synthesizing information from the various places they learn: home, school, church, television {don't judge.  my kids watch tv.  they're still able to function appropriately.  [Raegan's shenanigan's excluded]}.  

But then...THEN!  The 'thing' they've learned, the concept they've finally got a grip on becomes something that does good for others.  And not just 'other-others' . 'YOU-others'.  Your kid.  Your five year old kid takes a simple concept, a common sense thing that we should all possess in the depths of our soul--

Just be YOUR best, not THE best

--and reminds you of the simplicity of protecting UNITY of mankind.  We're all just out there in the world, doing our 'own best', seeking acknowledgement, requiring love and acceptance.  The world of competition and disapproval and judgement and looking down upon others and coveting others is not from a Godly place.  It is not from a place of 'best', not from a human heart, or a Godly covenant, but from an evil pit--a vortex of negativity that threatens our souls.  

Ironically enough, I came across this verse today as I spent time in quiet reflection:
Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men.                                                                                                                   ~Colossians 3:23 
I am reminded in this season, where it can be easy to be tempted into additional 'life traps' of competition in gift-giving and party-throwing and time-spending and house-decorating, that my best *is* the best, because I am an example of HIS best.

Today, I was the best I could be for where I am now.  Was I perfect?  Um, no.  Did I lose my temper with my ornery toddler rather than walk away and count to 10 {or 20...or 50}?  Definitely.  Did I get frustrated with the driver in front of me who appeared to be oblivious to traffic laws?  Of course.  Did I use a less-than-patient voice when my kids were very obviously using the dinner conversation as a means for avoiding the spaghetti squash that sat on their plates?  You betcha.

Buuuttt...all those 'worsts'...all those reactions that I wish I could snatch back and replace with a nicer, calmer, more graceful version of myself...any one of them had the power to drag me into a vortex of shame.  And when they pile up and compound on one another?  Forget about it!  The weight of shame can be so burdensome that it becomes easier to give up the resistance and allow yourself to become a part of the downward spiral, finding some way to cope with the ride, no matter how nauseous you may become.  I've been there--plenty...and I still find myself visiting there on my 'blah' days, when I'm feeling lost on how to obtain the joy of a peaceful existence.

And then there are days like today; when I'm finding myself making questionable decisions and having knee-jerk reactions, and somehow, I can still conclude that I was my best for my present-day self.

What gives?

When I feel that weight of shame burdening my shoulders and my vortex of self-blame and negative labeling infiltrating my soul, I simply do my best to cast all my anxieties on THE best, because He cares for me.  The vortex of competition and guilt and comparing and shame can be a wicked and harmful place in which to be.
Brynn's memory verse from last month came to life in my faith journal, so as I flipped open to a new page, I found pause on this particular verse, for it reminded me that while I was riding out the storm of shame from my worst moments, that THE best had my best under His control; so long as I gave up my control.

My best is far, far from THE best...but with His help, I can handle the worry.  I can deal with the 'hardness' of life.  I don't have to worry about if I can't do it, because I know I'll find my way.  And I don't have to worry about getting it wrong, because whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy.

His best is THE best, which helps me become my best.

And the same rings true for my loquacious little five year old.
Thank you, Sunshine <3

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