Our garage is not attached to our house, which is more than 100 years old. Our garage is built of concrete and our house is so small that it has been years since we actually put a car in the garage. Instead, our garage became the dumping ground for all kinds of stuff - broken bikes, empty paint cans, rakes, rusted garden tools and lots of leaves. It really was one of the grossest places on our property. I think it had been months since I had stepped foot in it. Still, I didn't expect to discover in the early fall that a certain preteen, because he was "bored" this summer, had chosen to spray paint the walls and floors of this most unlovely garage.
To say my husband and I were not pleased is an understatement.
I am not even showing you the worst of it, because his graffiti included a vulgarity.
We contemplated making him power wash and paint the entire garage himself, but decided instead his punishment would be to weed our entire overgrown backyard. We are talking 10 lawn bags full of weeds folks.
To keep a home, and to teach our children how to keep a home is a responsibility, a vocation I often have failed to take seriously. It seems I often neglect the physical space that is our home in exchange for feeding our sons' bodies and spirits and imaginations and in working hard at my job, to help my husband pay our bills and keep a roof over our heads.
Are you as old as me that you can remember that poem from 1972, "Children Learn What They Live?" Had we taught our children the value of taking care of what we are blessed enough to own, it never would have occurred to one of them to vandalize his parents' garage on a lazy summer afternoon as a way to entertain himself.
Children Learn What They Live
By Dorothy Law Nolte, Ph.D.
By Dorothy Law Nolte, Ph.D.
If children live with criticism, they learn to condemn.
If children live with hostility, they learn to fight.
If children live with fear, they learn to be apprehensive.
If children live with pity, they learn to feel sorry for themselves.
If children live with ridicule, they learn to feel shy.
If children live with jealousy, they learn to feel envy.
If children live with shame, they learn to feel guilty.
If children live with encouragement, they learn confidence.
If children live with tolerance, they learn patience.
If children live with praise, they learn appreciation.
If children live with acceptance, they learn to love.
If children live with approval, they learn to like themselves.
If children live with recognition, they learn it is good to have a goal.
If children live with sharing, they learn generosity.
If children live with honesty, they learn truthfulness.
If children live with fairness, they learn justice.
If children live with kindness and consideration, they learn respect.
If children live with security, they learn to have faith in themselves and in those about them.
If children live with friendliness, they learn the world is a nice place in which to live.