I am proud of my oldest daughter. I needed some help today, and she graciously stepped up to help her daddy. And that makes me a proud papa.
Last week it took me 2 hours to mow the lawn, not including trimming the weeds. And since I am on a time crunch (anticipated rain and upcoming activities), I needed some extra help.
Here are some of the ideas that I tried to teach my daughter today as we processed an activity that is rather new to her. A lot of these ideas translate well to other parts of our life.
As a special bonus, I have included a short interview at the end of this post that summarized my daughter's thoughts about the experience.
Protect Yourself. Protect Others.
Any time you try to something new you should understand the risks involved. Sometimes we need to take risks. Sometimes we need to avoid them.
In regards to mowing the lawn, it is important to wear the right kind of clothes and understand the power and functionality of the lawn mower. Avoiding the risk altogether (not even touching the lawn mower) equates to an oversized paperweight that sits out in the yard.
But with a little knowledge, training, and practice, I equipped my pre-teen daughter to safely push around a high powered twirling blade that could cut her hand off. I did remove her from the situation completely. I instead taught her proper safety measures and what to do if the unexpected happened.
1. Know Your Boundaries.
Some people hate boundaries. Others cannot live without them. Regardless of where you fall on the love-hate spectrum of boundaries, I feel that it is important to step back and see how boundaries impact our lives.
Most people talk about boundaries as a removal of personal freedom, which can be the case. But consider the following:
- My daughter needed to understand the physical boundaries of our lawn. I did not need her to cut the neighbor's lawn today. She also had to understand how the lawn mower would react if it ran into the chain linked fences.
- I was experiencing time boundaries. My lack of time is why I asked my daughter to help.
- As I mentioned earlier, there were boundaries put in place regarding safety. Let go of the kill switch if there was ever a problem. Never run the lawn mower over people or property. Don't touch a moving lawnmower blade!
Some boundaries were expanded today. My daughter has a sense of pride for working with her hands. She has new knowledge that can be used again to help our family and other people. She was rewarded today because of her maturity, not punished because of something she did wrong.
2. Understand The Flow
When it comes to mowing a lawn, straight lines are a must. This is not always the case in life.
I don't want to force my children to think the way I do. I want to teach them to look at a situation and learn how to navigate it with the skills and giftings that they possess. Some life events require an of the box, almost chaotic flow knowledge and activities. Other events are sequential and ordered. The challenge is to learn how to know which is needed and then take steps to execute a plan.
3. Practice Makes Perfect
So today was only the second time ever my daughter touched a lawnmower. I have to be honest. She made some mistakes, but considering the amount of previous experience she had, I think she did a great job.
As she practices more, I will expect more of her. And I am guessing that she will expect more of herself as well. Practice implies repetition. Practice implies honing one's skills and getting better over time.
I could cut my daughter's lawn mowing career short. I could make today be the last day she ever mows my lawn. But my end goal is not shorter grass just for today. I see this as an opportunity to invest in my daughter's self-esteem. I see this as an ongoing life lesson. We have not achieved our goal yet. But as I allow her to practice more, she will improve and strive towards excellence.
4. Celebrate the Process.
I have told my daughter at least 5 times that I appreciated her work today. I want her to know that as her daddy I see and value her as a person and what she does for me and our family. Again the end goal was not shorter grass just for today.
The process is what is most meaningful.
- new life skills
- feeling empowered
- challenging oneself
- helping others
- preparing for bigger challenges and opportunities
5. Patience. Patience. Patience.
My daughter will have to push aside her desire to "just get things done" and replace that mindset with "do things right. Patience is required to achieve excellence.
Now mowing a lawn is not easy work. It is hard. My daughter will reach a moment (rather quickly I believe) where the newness will rub off. She may decide that mowing is not as fun as it was today. She may questions how interested she is if she feels sore tomorrow from pushing the lawnmower (it was not self-propelled). Patience is required to stay on course.
Have you ever taught a pre-teen how to mow a law? I am blessed. My daughter received instruction well, but we still have a ways to go. I have to be patient so that I don't corrupt the teaching moment. I have to be patient so that I can help my daughter reach excellence. Patience is required for teaching, training, and equipping.
The Promised Interview
I did not just want to share my thoughts. I wanted my daughter to reflect a bit about her experience. The following are her responses.
What did you think when I asked you to mow the lawn?
I was a little surprised because I had only tried it once before at my granpa's house.
What was the biggest challenge?
The biggest challenge was when there was a big clump of grass and I had to push harder. And of course, the turns.
What advice would you give to someone who is learning how to mow the lawn?
Always try to keep the lines straight or you will have to go back again.
Would you ever what to help mow again? Why or why not?
I would like to mow the lawn again because it is fun. I was able to be outdoors and work with my hands.
I Want To Hear From You
Let's continue the conversation.
- Which point (1-5) connected most with you?
- Have you ever taught someone how to mow the lawn?
- How do you mow the lawn where you live?
Thanks for stopping by!
Image Source: This photo is a picture of my front yard (taken with my iPhone).
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