Tonight I was in Supermom mode.
Supper was done. Dishes were washed. Kids were bathed. Clothes were put away. Ok, who am I kidding? The clothes were not put away, but a girl can dream, right?
Anyway, mostly everything was in order. So, I pile on the couch with my three squeaky clean kids for a bedtime story. Tonight was my three year old, Hannah Clay’s, turn to pick, so she chose the classic Disney version of Three Little Pigs.
I love that story. I got all theatrical, singing “Who’s afraid of the big bad wolf” as if I was trying out for a Broadway musical, and then scaring the dickens out of the baby with my enthusiastic “Little pig, little pig, let me come in!”, to which Hannah Clay expectantly squealed “Not by da hair o’ my chinny chin chin!”
It was a good time. Fun stuff. Right up until Hannah Clay poked me in the belly after it was over and said, “Momma, which little pig are youuuuu?” She giggled, smiled her tiny sarcastic, crooked smile and dashed off to her room, leaving me slightly abashed, hoping the poke wasn’t an allusion to the similarity between my stomach and the little pigs’ stomachs.
After giving myself time to sink comfortably into denial that she could possibly have made that connection, I started to think about myself in terms of the three little pigs.
You remember how it goes, right? The first little pig was lazy and didn’t think being eaten by a wolf was a possibility, so he builds a quick lean-to out of straw instead of putting in the time and effort to build a home sturdy enough to protect him from the Big Bad Wolf.
The second little piggy wasn’t much better, more concerned about playing his fiddle than building a safe abode, so he throws together a house of sticks, and hey-diddle-diddle, skips down the road to play with his lazy brother.
The third little piggy is noted to be the more “sober” of the three, clearly recognizing the threat of a Big Bad Wolf with a taste for pork showing up at his doorstep. He builds a strong, brick home, taking the time to stack the bricks and secure them with mortar, though it takes him all day and he doesn’t get to play (which he doesn’t like to do anyway, so the story goes).
I had gotten so caught up in the theatrics that I’d forgotten to explain to my children the “moral of the story”, which, interestingly enough, could be applied to several different situations.
So, being a momma, I started thinking about the steps I’m taking to prepare my three little pigs (Coell, Hannah Clay, and Ada) in protecting themselves from the Big Bad Wolves of this world.
- Prepare them for failure. I know, Negative Nancy here, starting off with something depressing, but it’s true. Something I’m not always so great at is letting my kids lose. It’s tough to see them cry. It’s tough to see them hurt because they’re disappointed. But we need to teach our children that failure is not the end, it’s the beginning. Thomas Edison said, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” Failure is an opportunity for growth. The good Lord above knows it took me fifteen million times of cooking pancakes to make them taste anything close to my Nannie’s pancakes.
- Stop doing things for them that they have the ability to do for themselves. Does it take five extra minutes to let that three year old button her own pants? Yes, yes it does. Is it worth it to send a kid to school who can go potty by herself AND wear her favorite blue jeans with the tricky button? Absolutely. Watch her beam when she buttons up those bad boys without any help. Failure followed by eventual success is a sure way to develop self confidence. So, slow down, Momma. Let her do it by herself.
- Prepare them for success. One day, those little pigs are going to grow up and be awesome. They will win the science fair. They will make the all-star team. They might even get voted for a superlative in high school. Great. Teach them to be humble. A gracious winner is a real winner. Teach them that boasting and bragging makes them look like arrogant pigs (pun intended) that no one will want to celebrate with. Probably my favorite non-Biblical quote about humility is from Ernest Hemingway:
“There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow man; true nobility is being superior to your former self.”
Let them know that each goal attained is just a stepping stone for the next goal. Don’t let them develop complacency, the number one killer of growth. Success isn’t about the destination, it’s about the journey. (I think somebody famous said that.) Teach them that striving to better themselves daily is more important than pleasing others, and they will develop a sense of independence and self-worth. Teach them that the only being they should be concerned with pleasing is God above, and that each success they attain should be used to glorify Him.
So, in conclusion, help your little pigs build their houses of brick with a solid foundation that will keep the trials of life from swooping in and knocking them down. Teach them to build their houses on the Rock and not the sand.