Letting Go of Picture Perfect

It's a scary thing to let go of that picture-perfect ideal. But I'm here to tell you that it is well worth it in the end.

I called them in, these boys of mine.  We were studying the tabernacle at the time.  Visions of this exquisite, picture-perfect, to-scale model of the tabernacle were floating around in my head like the one I created during my junior high years with my sisters.  That one that was put on display at church.  Yes, that one.

The boys were excited.  Spray paint and hot glue guns have a special allure, don’t they?

Boys huddled around as building commenced.  In almost reverential awe, each one picked up the small saw and proceeded to cut balsa wood posts for the courtyard.  I hovered over them, Bible in hand, to make sure that it was perfect.

But as I continued to step in, to adjust, to pause the building to consult our Bible and our awesome book on the Tabernacle, they drifted off one-by-one until I finally realized that I was the only one left building.

In frustration, I shouted for them to come back…  This is school for crying out loud.  And fun school at that. But it was too late.  They had lost interest and I had no one to blame but myself.  My obsession with the perfect model had killed their desire.

Letting Go of Perfection – My 2nd Chance!

As the project languished on the front room table, co-op day arrived and I was hosting.

My assignment for the morning – build a walk through replica of the tabernacle and the courtyard.  I told them to be creative.  Boys gave me skeptical looks.  Given how the last week had gone down, I think they expected me to give a lecture on mathematical scaling and beautiful pseudo-authenticity.  But I had come to my senses.  The purpose here was for them to work together, creatively utilizing items from around our home that could symbolize each aspect of the Jewish tabernacle and then give the two moms a tour.

They stuttered briefly, before flying outdoors chattering with their friends as they constructed their own version of the tabernacle.  It was a rousing success.  They had fun and flexed those creative muscles.  They made it their own.  And while these images may not wow anyone on Pinterest, they made it.  ALL.BY.THEMSELVES.

And that my friends, is powerful.
Learning about the Tabernacle: One of the best ways to review what your kids have learned is to have them create a walk-thru model of the tabernacle!Learning about the Tabernacle: One of the best ways to review what your kids have learned is to have them create a walk-thru model of the tabernacle!

Whether it is your high ideal or what seems like someone else’s beautiful reality, we must hold firm to holding things lightly, to letting go of that “perfect idea” and in this case look towards memory making and kid-involved learning rather than parent-driven perfection.

I’m a work-in-progress, but I’m thankful for lessons like this along the way that help me learn to let it go…

And that beautiful Tabernacle diorama? We never finished it.  I ended up throwing away all of the perfectly cut and painted posts, the half constructed tabernacle building, the hand-stitched coverings that the boys did make with the vivid, albeit crooked lines of scarlet and purple…  My friend on the other-hand utilized things she had lying around the house.  They used play dough and popsicle sticks. And it was awesome. Her kids loved it and her husband proudly posted pictures to Facebook.  Let go, my friends.  It’s totally worth it.

Kid-generated Tabernacle model

Restoring Chivalry and Civility {free printable}

Chivalry is far more than merely how a man treats a woman. It is a whole code of conduct and it is inspiring! Free printable and training log for Knights-in-Training, a boys chivalry challenge!

A couple of months ago, a reporter from the New York Times contacted me because of a free printable I offered. She wanted to interview me for a piece she was writing on chivalry.  That article finally came out today which of course had me thinking with fond memories again of that season nearly 5 years ago when we embarked on Knight-Training.  I’m thinking about pulling it out again, especially since Trey missed out on it last time around.

We live in a day and age where our culture is anything but civil.  It doesn’t take more than 10 minutes on Facebook or even less time at a school recess yard to recognize that.  As parents, however, we have the power to shape the culture of our home.  We can set an example in how to show care and respect for others.

Years ago, when we were learning about the Middle Ages, I read up on chivalry.  What I learned surprised me.  I had always thought of chivalry as merely how a man treats a women.  But it is far more than that.  It was an entire code of conduct.  As my boys waged imaginary battles all around me, I read and was filled with renewed vision.  I desired to raise these three boys to treat others with respect, to fight for what is right and good, to stand against injustice and evil, to defend those that are weak and protect them.  When the culture at large proceeds to demean women, I wanted to raise strong sons who would show thoughtfulness and care, not only for the women that they encounter each day, but EVERYONE.  I saw an opportunity to inspire my boys to seek to build one another up instead of tearing others down.  In a ME-focused culture, we desired to focus on loving God first and then others.  So as we learned about the history of the middle ages, we delved into character development too.

The deeper we delved, the more inspired they became. They wanted to emulate knights in every way…  So I decided to have them ‘train’ to become knights.  The training was rigorous (for little boys), including daily running, archery practice, sword fights, stick horse rides to the park (in full armor – you should have seen the curious looks of our neighbors!) to stage mock battles and learn the art of warfare (high ground is a plus), jousting practice, shining my silver (since their armor consists of cardboard, foam and paper mache), etc.
But we didn’t stop there…  No, I decided in the name of seeking to raise modern-day knights, that I would introduce them to the idea of chivalry!  As I expected, my boys were drawn to this too and so we decided to take some extra time in their knighthood training to include talking about, practicing and rewarding chivalrous behavior!  I was amazed at all of the opportunities they had, even as young boys to implement the code in their own lives.
Knights-in-Training - inspiration to train your young knights in chivalry {free printable}
I printed off the list on paper, burned the edges to give it an ‘authentic flair’ and posted it up so we could review it daily!
Chivalry code of conduct and Knights Training Log {free printable}
My boys were also big chart kids.  They just loved to chart progress and see it visually, so we printed off charts for the two older boys.  Stars were bequeathed when I spotted heroic feats of chivalry!  It was fun to watch them step in and defend their baby brother against ‘injustice’ (warring other brother), see my boys race out to open the car doors for Aunt B, see the son who has been struggling with lying, fess up and speak the truth (even though it meant facing consequences – a true sign of bravery and strength I told him.), and have boys eager to carry groceries to the car and then into the house!
Even after we moved on from that unit on the middle ages, they were still eager to grow in strength and valor on these areas.
Knights-in-Training - inspiration to train your young knights in chivalry {free printable}

At the end of our unit, we had a dubbing ceremony where the boys were each knighted by the ‘king of the house.’  They were quite serious about it all, preparing the throne room and kneeling so reverently.  Even the three year old slowed down from his frenzied running (that is the norm at the end of the day) to watch and participate.

I’ve come to realize that this training in chivalry is only the beginning.  I pray they will continue to grow in strength, love for the King of kings, defending the weak and taking stands for what is right and true!

If you would like to engage in some Knights Training of your own, I’ve included the printable Knights Code of Conduct as well as a Chart to mark your progress.  Now that I have a little girl in the picture, I’m going to have to give some thought to how I want to do this with her.

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Related Post: Knights-in-the Making
King Focus

Day1-Medieval Castle Comparisons

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