We didn’t leave the house today. It’s Christmas break and with the icy winter wonderland just beyond the front door, I had neither a reason nor the motivation to do so.
It was the perfect day to stay in and rest after a busy Christmas with family and friends.
So while the toddler napped, I sat down with my daughter to teach her how to play checkers. I expected it to be a relaxing and quiet experience, some quality one-on-one time with my girl.
But as so often is the case, my expectation was not met.
I quickly lost track of how many times we had to start the game over due to the force of my child’s unrestrained elbows accidentally sending the small, round playing pieces overboard. I huffed and I puffed as I attempted to recover numerous checkers from underneath pieces of furniture that I was not strong enough to move on my own. And I relentlessly snapped at my daughter to sit still in order to avoid yet another do-over.
Needless to say, it wasn’t the calm experience that I had imagined and my mood almost immediately went from bright to dim.
I managed to lighten up after we made it through one full game without any accidents, and we went on to complete another. But it wasn’t without guilt over the poor attitude I had displayed just minutes before.
Trying to teach my kids anything frustrates me – it’s not something that comes easily to me at all. And after we finally made it through one full game, I wondered if my daughter had learned anything other than what a crappy teacher I am.
But I have to remember that while my kids are learning, so am I. And the learning doesn’t always come easily.
I am learning patience, but only after considering what impatience does to both myself and those around me.
My daughter is learning to be still, when necessary, but only after recognizing the consequences of sudden and careless movements.
I am learning to wait before opening my mouth when frustrated, but only after experiencing the regret of directing harsh words towards my own child.
My daughter is learning to listen, but only after realizing that she has missed important instructions.
Despite a less than stellar first-time-playing-checkers experience for my daughter, she still told me it was the best part of her day. And turns out, it was the best part of mine too.
So maybe we are both learning that despite all of its imperfections and frustrations, this game of life we play together can still turn out to be better than we could have ever imagined.