One of my favorite all-time books, Illusions by Richard Bach, has so many inspirational quotes that come back to me at various times in my life. One that occurred to me this week is:
There is no such thing as a problem without a gift for you in its hands. You seek problems because you need their gifts.
One of the challenges in our weekly routine lately has been getting to our karate class in a timely manner, all dressed in our karate gis (white uniforms with belts). Since we carpool with friends, getting out the door in time is important, not just for us but for them as well. Transitions can be challenging for my kids. My oldest finds moving from one activity to another to be a big challenge at times, while my youngest can get distracted from something like getting dressed by a bead on the floor or the sudden notion to get out her puppet collection or an idea for a new hairstyle she wants to try out this moment. Getting everyone in the right gi and moving toward the door by 9:30 was shaping up to be an exercise in major frustration.
In our culture, frustrations with kids and timelines often results in rules, star charts, or simply pulling one's hair out and yelling louder. In a house where positive interactions and creative problem-solving are stressed over top-down rule, those answers are simply not an option. So our ongoing getting-out-the-door issue continued, involving frustration for all of us.
But one day, a fun and simple solution presented itself to me. I threw all of our karate gis in the dryer for a few minutes until they were nice and toasty warm. Then I called out "Gis for sale, get your nice warm Gis here!" and the kids came running and put on those nice, warm, fresh-smelling gis and I have to admit they felt really good getting dressed all warm like that. It change the whole tone of trying to get ready to go from a struggle to a really pleasant experience that we all share. We ooooh and aaaah over how nice and warm they are. So now I've started doing that with pajamas in the evening too when the kids want me to.
I'm always amazed at how if you take a problem and really look creatively at it, you can almost always find something that makes it better. Sometimes I get too heads-down and don't use that creativity, get stuck and don't see a good solution. This was a great reminder about how easily an experience can be transformed by something simple. When we're presented with challenges, we can always be looking for their gifts.