On Wednesday one of the things I talked about was the danger of making assumptions, as inspired by a statement by Seth Godin: “The lack of instructions doesn’t make something simple.” As I was thinking about this insight, I read another, this time by Adam Lyons: “It’s simple, but not easy.” So today I thought we’d talk about the concepts of simple and easy since they’re concepts that families deal with on a regular basis. As adults some things seem so easy for us, for example we don’t have trouble lifting the full laundry basket but our kids can’t do it. We also think it’s easy to read or make something to eat, but our kids struggle with the same things, and may even cause some serious problems if they tried to do what we do in the kitchen. But kids seem to have a much better handle on the simple stuff like getting along, forgiveness, love, living in the moment, play and naps.
How can we bridge the gap between what we know is easy and what kids think is simple? It’s our job as adults to teach kids the essential things they need to know in life. Sometimes that means taking over and showing them, sometimes it means putting your hands on theirs to help them do it, sometimes it means letting them try and fail. Regardless it usually means lots and lots of practice and repetitive explanations. The transition from what kids don’t know is easy to what they do know is easy is very evident in families with multiple children. As the younger siblings are learning the basics the older siblings say “that’s so easy! I know how to do that!” And so they learn and are on to new things that aren’t so easy.
But what about the simple things in life? Not only do the simple things in life seem to come easy to kids, it’s not so easy when we try to put the simple things into practice. Why? Because for years we’ve learned, believed, taught ourselves, ignored, or chosen to see things and live in one way or another. It’s a lot easier to talk about concepts than it is to put them into practice like kids do. We need to do what kids do when it comes to the stuff that’s easy for us: learn and practice. So this weekend and next week if you find yourself thinking that things are simple take time to appreciate what you can do, and if things are too hard, consider whether it’s something you can or should learn and get to work practicing, especially when it comes to concepts like getting along, forgiveness, and living in the moment.