This weekend, I was reprimanding my daughter. I had asked her several times to turn off her IPad, and yet she continued on, happily playing Minecraft. She said she absolutely HAD to finish something that her younger brother had requested her to create.
As I (rather loudly) reminded her about our rules for technology, and how I would like her to listen to me when I speak to her, she started to become tearful. All of a sudden, my son stepped in between the two of us. In as strong and firm a tone as he could muster in his seven year old body, he said, “Do NOT get mad at her. She does not deserve it, because it’s not her fault.”
He held my eyes in a steady fashion, daring me to challenge him.
He recognized that she was getting in trouble for something he had asked her to do. He was stepping in to protect her, defend her. He was well aware that he might be next to get in trouble. But he was not about to throw her under the bus.
I looked at the both of them, sighed, and dropped the issue. It was Friday. I was tired, and certainly not in the mood for a battle or long discussion. There would be plenty of other opportunities.
But I cannot forget the image of my son, standing in front of his sister, with that defiant look in his eyes and a certain conviction in his voice. It was a snapshot in time. His body looked like the seven year old that he is, and at the same time, I could see a glimpse of the man he might become one day.
He was embodying all of it, all at once. I couldn’t help but see his transition, his evolution, occurring in front of my very eyes. Sometimes our children change in small, unnoticeable steps, and sometimes in big leaps.
He is a work in progress.
And actually, as I think of it, we, and all of our experiences, are a work in progress too. The flavors unfolding in a recipe as it is being cooked. The garden that emerges as flowers bloom. And yes, the growth of a child, mind body spirit, on the tumultous journey towards adulthood.
So why do we expect ourselves, as adults, to be completed projects? Every cell in our body grows and dies. We are constantly learning from our experiences and the people around us. Just like our children, we are a flexible intersection of all we have been, and all that we are becoming. And that is how it should be.
When we expect mastery or perfection from ourselves, we forget that we too are on our own developmental trajectory. When we allow ourselves that growth, we are free to push beyond our comfort zones. We are more gentle with ourselves, and others. We grant ourselves permission to be and fail and try.
Just like the child who appears small in physical form, yet larger than life in spirit.
So today, and in the week ahead, can you notice and admire how parts of you continue to change? Can you allow yourself, and those around you, to be a work in progress, rather than a finished masterpiece?
Wishing you a peaceful week ahead.