The other day, as we were unpacking groceries, I gave my daughter a simple, yet useful task. I simply asked her to fold up the paper bags once they were empty. I figured it wouldn’t take her long, and we’d have the kitchen clean in no time. I figured wrong.
I looked over and saw her crumpled, angry face as she flattened the paper bag in a way I’ve never seen before.
“Ummm, that’s not the right way to fold a bag,” I told her.
“There are lots of ways of doing it. I like my way,” she said stubbornly.
“No, it has to fit with the others, there is a RIGHT way to fold a paper bag. It’s not about creativity this time,” I informed her.
I quickly showed her the line segments along the bag. “See, isn’t that simple?”
I returned to my task of putting the groceries away. My son finished his job and I instructed him to help his sister with the task.
“I can’t do it!” They both said after many attempts at this LIFE SKILL.
“What do you mean you can’t do it?” I was confused. “You’re two very intelligent kids. Folding a paper bag is a simple skill. I don’t understand what you’re telling me.” I tried to remember LEARNING this task; I don’t remember learning it, but it’s a skill I’ve always had.
“It’s too hard!” My daughter fired back.
“Too bad. You WILL figure this out and you WILL be in this room until you do.” I then handed both of my kids a folded paper bag as a finished model. “Use this to help you figure it out.” I left the room, so I wouldn’t have to watch them any more, so I could laugh quietly to myself, and so I wouldn’t get in the way of their learning (like they hoped I would).
After a few more struggles, the kids figured out how to fold a paper bag. So I did what any teacher/mom would do, “Thank you for folding the bags. Now you will fold them again.” As I said that, I deliberately unfolded each bag again, much to their horror.
“But we were done!” my daughter challenged.
“Yes, but I want you to remember how to do this, so you need to practice a few more times,” which is exactly what they did for the next twenty minutes.
At this point, you are probably laughing at my kids and feeling pretty good about yours. I don’t blame you. Anyway, this little incident taught me a lot about my kids. Seeing how a simple task frustrated them, hearing them want to quit right away, demonstrated to me that they are not being challenged as much as they should be. Yes, a paper bag gave me this deep insight into my kids’ worlds. By watching my kids struggle and give up easily, I can see they have faced very few cognitive challenges in their lives. Unfortunately for them, that’s not a good thing.
Luckily, they have me, a mom, who is passionate about TRUE learning and life skills. I’ve made it my mission to make them figure out as many relevant problems I can find. In time, I hope they’ll learn to find their own challenges to conquer.
At the end of the day, they are my loves and my responsibility. They will grow up to be contributing members of society who have more skills than just cursive, memorizing, and test passing abilities. If all of that means they have to fold paper bags in my kitchen, then so be it.
Please enter the Frozen giveaway by clicking here. Even if you’re not a fan of Frozen, you can always donate these toys if you win.