I have had grand plans for quite a while now to teach my preschooler about the fruits of the Spirit. I was going to do hours of blog-reading and website-scouring to find the best resources and activities for each attribute listed in Galatians 5:22-23. I was going to correlate songs and Veggie Tales episodes. I was even going to type out mini “lesson plans” for each one and share them with the world. Or at least, the small mom’s blog part of it. This is the planner in me. The teacher. The over-achiever.
And guess what? Those grand plans have amounted to squat. Because I’m also a mom. A photographer. A real person with real needs, like taking naps and binge watching Friends on Netflix. I have let those needs take precedence over my overwhelming Monica Geller-like Fruits of the Spirits Curriculum idea.
I think that’s OK, actually, to put yourself first once in a while. But it is NOT OK that my big plans have actually gotten in the way! How many months have I postponed talking about the Fruits of the Spirit with my son because I didn’t have it all “ready” yet? We do not have to have perfect plans to parent well. We do not have to have it all together to make an impact. So, I have re-vamped my plans a bit, and I’m just going for it without (gasp) reading the entire internet until my eyes bleed to ensure that I’m doing it the very best way possible.
My “More-like-Chandler-Bing-than-Monica-Geller” Fruits of the Spirit Curriculum:
Love: I will start to teach my son how to love others by first loving him. I will tell him every day how much I love him and how much God loves him. I will remind him that our hearts are filled with love because God made us that way. I will show him how to love others by putting their needs first.
Joy: I will model a joyful attitude, even when our morning starts 30 minutes earlier than it should. I will sing and laugh and dance as often as possible. I will splash back at bath time. I will turn our grocery cart into a race car. And I will tell him every night that our joy and happiness and lightheartedness are gifts from God.
Peace: I will encourage Oliver to find value in the peaceful blessings we have all around us. I will point out beautiful sunsets in the Target parking lot and melt into quiet cuddles with him after pulling a warm blanket from the dryer. I will model for him what it looks like to trust God, let our worries go, take a deep breath and live in the slow moments.
Forbearance: I will help my four year old’s patience grow as he does. I will empathize aloud with him about how hard it is to wait, but I will also show him every chance I get why it was better to do so. I will help him see the connection between patience and wisdom. I will model patience when I repeat the same request to him five times over or when I sit with pajamas in hand on his bedroom floor as he runs back and forth down the hallway, naked and shrieking.
Kindness: I will remind my preschooler to be kind every day of his life and we will talk about what that looks like specifically. I will point out kindness when I see it and we will discuss what would have been the kinder choice when we encounter the opposite. I will model for him how to reach out to others who are sad or hurting and I will encourage him to do the same.
Goodness: We will talk about how goodness means being ready to help others. I will be aware of opportunities to model this, like stopping to help someone who drops something at the store or being the first one to volunteer with clean up at a birthday party. Together, we will stuff backpacks for others and have blessing bags at the ready for those less fortunate. I will also remind Oliver that honesty and trust and goodness are connected. Goodness also means always telling the truth. I will continue to teach him the difference between pretending with imagination and lying with deceit.
Faithfulness: I will tell Oliver that we never give up. We never give up on a true friend. We never give up on each other. We never give up on God. Even when things are hard, we tell our hearts to be strong as we stick together. I will show him what faithfulness looks like by drawing closer in difficult times – to him, to others, to God.
Gentleness: I will continue to remind my wild son to be gentle with his body, but I will also teach him that our words need to be gentle, too. I will encourage him to use kind words to solve problems, and I will do my best to let him see me do the same. I will model being slow to anger and I will strive to use a calm and gentle tone when I inevitably find myself there after stepping barefoot on a Lego.
Self-Control: I remember when I first realized the depth of possibilities here. I gave Oliver two M&Ms after he used his potty chair, but I told him to save them for morning because we had already brushed his teeth. He chose to keep them on the bottom shelf of his book case – and he slept on the floor next to them. They were still there the next morning when he asked me if he could eat his candies now. If a candy-crazed toddler can do this, certainly I can set high expectations for self-control. I will praise Oliver for the self-control he demonstrates and use those moments to show him that he IS strong enough in any situation to know that he can do something, but choose not to. I will encourage him to think before acting or speaking and to always make the right choice.
Hey, look at that. Maybe I have been teaching these all along. And I didn’t even have a three-ring binder and sheet protectors to help me do it.