On a Tuesday at 7 a.m. my daughter brought me some oddly patterned paper and a book and said, “I can’t get this right, can you help me?” I, of course, immediately remembered when I was a kid (and expert paper airplane maker) and responded, “Sure”, grabbed my coffee and sat down with pure confidence. Thinking it would only take about five minutes, I was certain we would still have time to eat a great breakfast, get ready for school and head to work on time. I plowed head on, happy to help. What came next is my reason for this short commentary.
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[membership]First, I have to say these are not like the paper airplanes of the past. They have mountain folds, ¼ turns and technical aerodynamic revisions. The book has an index of over 30 different types of airplanes, broken down by speed and height, depending on what you are trying to accomplish.
You may be wondering “What does this have to do with parenting?” The project took about 30 minutes from start to finish and it required us to dive into the glossary, read through all of the instructions, and repeat several steps. Throughout the process my daughter closely observed each of these steps, which included some that were successful and some that were frustrating. The lesson was not something we Googled or watched on eHow.com. Our airplane project required collaboration and communication. It used reading, critical thinking, and applying skills that we learned together.
It would have been much easier to make it for her, but working together, step by step afforded my daughter the time, patience and attention that kids need and want from their parents. It taught me that parenting isn’t always about making sure our kids get to school on time, finish their homework and excel in sports or music. Parenting is about taking the time to teach the process and the skills that we all learned growing up, before the Internet had all the answers. Computers don’t teach patience, they don’t teach critical thinking and they certainly don’t teach tenacity or perseverance.
Who would have thought, that an early morning spent making paper airplanes would teach me a valuable lesson in parenting? Part of being a good parent is about taking time, engaging and being in the moment with our children. Time together is a gift we should cherish; especially when our children come to us, before checking for answers on the Internet.[/membership]