“I hate spelling. I’m terrible at it!” It’s week two of school and the honeymoon is already over.
The new pencils are starting to dull, we’ve broken a few of the new crayons and drudgery is already starting to set it.
How quickly it happens.
Spelling is my ten year old’s Kryptonite. Different subjects, different lessons will frustrate him at different times, but spelling is a sure bet for frustration almost every time.
I’ve made peace with this as a homeschooling mama. This boy of mine has subjects he dives into and sails through and ones that don’t come quite as naturally. Personally, I’d take spelling over math any day of the week. We each have our own bent.
But the rush of the new school year is over; our new reality has set it.
I get the sense that we’re not alone either. A mama friend told me the other day about her son’s rough day on the bus. About kids being rude and unkind.
It’s a tough job we have, parenting these kids. Leading them through spelling words and math problems. Through bus rides and making friends. Through lunch lines and making the team, getting the grade, waiting their turn. Some of it is just plain hard.
Hard for kids and hard for mamas, too.
But the other day, when I saw my boy pulling out his spelling book, weakening by the second, I realized that spelling was not what is important here. Not at all.
As much as I want to train my children to spell, I want to train my children to do hard things.
Character over content.
No matter what our children grow up to be, they will be forced to do hard things. Things that aren’t fun. Things they aren’t awesome at.
This mama job of mine is pretty awesome. I wouldn’t trade it for the world. But blow out diapers are awful. Teething toddlers are hard. Kids puking on an airplane is not easy and a whiny 3 year old (4, 5, 6 year old?) can test anyone’s patience.
And let’s not forget training hearts and reigning in attitudes.
While the variables change, the frustrations in the workplace are every bit as present as well. Dealing with co-workers can be hard. Deadlines are tough. Salary negotiations and job demands can be frustrating.
So as much as I want to teach my kid to spell, actually more than I want him to spell, I want him to know how to handle hard stuff. I want to train his character, his reflexes to handle hard things bravely. I want to show him how frustrating things can refine him, not define him. And I want to help him develop a history, a track record that becomes evidence of the fruit of perseverance.
Doing hard things well is what gives our children the confidence to do them well again in the future. In their friendships, in their marriages, in their jobs and when they become parents. Let’s train them intentionally, let’s give them that gift.
Three important lessons hard things teach our kids:
- Faithfulness. In Luke 16:10 Jesus tells us “He who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in much”. While this verse is typically understood to mean our wealth, it applies to our gifts and talents just as much. We are called to be stewards of all we are given in any measure. Growing our kids in their strengths as well as their weaknesses teaches them to be faithful stewards of all they are blessed with. And when we train their hearts to do this out of an act of obedience and faithfulness, right where they are at, growing and learning today, we begin to develop their character for things far beyond spelling. Interesting how that lesson applies to us every bit as much as it does our kids.
- Perseverance. If parenting isn’t a lesson in perseverance, I don’t know what is! There are so many areas of life where we patiently chip away, daily faithfully committing our efforts to results we can barely see. I want my 10 year old speller to know that. Sometimes progress comes slowly, but it does come. I want to develop that tenacity to persevere because it will serve him well in so many areas of life.
- Weakness is Opportunity. 2 Corinthians 12:9 tells us God’s power is perfected in our weakness. Man am I ever thankful for that verse! There is so much hope there and I want my kids to know that truth. In the very area where I am overwhelmed and under-skilled I have seen God show up in the biggest ways, in my life. When I know I am not enough I get to see the One who is. And I want my kids to see that too.
So I want spelling to look a little different this week. We’re not chasing down a lesson or shooting for a certain percentage correct. We aren’t shooting for outcomes as much as we are shooting for character. We are going to be faithful and work on perseverance. We are going to be thankful for the opportunity to persevere through hard things together. And we are going to pray each day that He may be glorified in our school work, even our spelling.
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