Knowing What to Overlook

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My 9 yr-old daughter bounded into our bedroom this morning, announcing that she has two projects on the docket for today.  The first is a habitat with rocks and soil in a re-purposed lizard tank (think fish tank but for land creatures).  The second is to make animals out of homemade play-doh and paint them.

As I listened to the unveiling of her plans, the only thing I could really focus on was that her fingernails were dirty, and needed to be cut before we go to church.


I did finally push out of my mouth something like “What great initiative Miranda! Sounds like a terrific project!”  But this was not my first or even screaming-to-be-said thought.

When we interact with adults, and even other people's children, we make a concerted effort to emphasize the good over the bad, carefully timing any bad.  Yet we often, even compulsively, and clumsily point out what isn't right with our children.

Wrote William James, “The art of being wise is the art of knowing what to overlook.”

I'm thinking that if I want to rear children that know how to dream, and be a person around whom others will feel it's safe to dream, it would behoove me to work on overlooking the bad, underscoring the good.

I will eventually mention that my daughter needs to trim her nails, because good grooming is important. But the timing difference — a delay of just two hours — is key.

What and when to overlook.

May we be wise.

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