A few mornings ago (pre-caffeine) I was struggling to reassemble a travel coffee mug in the kitchen. Another person in the household provided me with rapid-fire instructions on how to do it, so rapid-fire my brain did not have time to even process the instructions, then took the mug and fixed it for me. I cannot even begin to describe the range of emotions or feelings I went through in that moment but I am going to try.
Grateful for the coffee mug being put back together. Frustration at the mug being taken from me. Excited for the coffee that would fill the mug (yay, caffeine at 6:30 am!). Anger that I did not get the chance to do it myself. Stubborn determination to NOT fix the other one and just leave it on the counter unassembled (you can put it together yourself thank you very much). And stubborn determination to put the damn thing back together, it’s just a coffee mug for goodness sakes. And then… a light bulb of realization hit me.
My stubborn determination to NOT reassemble the other mug is exactly what I see my 7 year old do when he does not get something right the first time. And then… I realized I probably contribute to that. I give him instructions but I do not always give him the time or space to process those instructions and figure out whatever he is trying to do. I know what he needs to do, so it seems very obvious to me, so why is it taking so long?? But this experience made me realize I need to slow down because it is not obvious to him, just like the mug was not obvious to me. I need to allow time and space for things to process and happen.
If I were my own best friend I would remind myself to give space and time along with instructions (for my 7 year old but also for anyone else). I would remind myself to count to 100 before jumping in (not 10). I would remind myself to look at the most frustrating moments as learning and growth opportunities. I would buy coffee mugs that stay in one piece all the time.
And in case anyone out there is curious, yes, I did put together the second mug. It took every bit of control I had to not walk away and behave like a, well, 7 year old, but I overcame and decided to try again (stubborn determination to conquer the mug won out). I successfully reassembled the mug and then successfully drank all the coffee that filled it throughout the day.