Many years ago, our then five-year-old son trudged into the kitchen.
“I don’t wanna go back to school.” He dropped his Ninja Turtle backpack on the floor and crossed his tiny arms to emphasize the point. “Mrs. C doesn’t like questions and she doesn’t like teaching kids either.”
Surely, he’d misjudged Mrs. C. The teacher we’d just met at Open House a week earlier seemed warm, welcoming, and open to creative little spirits and their quandaries.
I knelt and met my child at eye level. “What makes you say that, honey?”
“’Cause if we wanna know something, she says ‘Not Now’ or ‘Go back to your seat.’ And…if we have a problem, she tells us to go write it on the problem board.”
“Problem board? What’s that?”
“It’s that big board on wheels with lots of white paper.”
Ah…yes. The one at the front of the classroom. I remembered seeing it at Open House.
“Well, did you need help with a question?”
“No. I had a problem.” My son’s face clouded. “Tommy took all my pencils and snapped them in two. When I tried to tell Mrs. C she said, ‘Go write it down on the problem board and then your problem will go away.’”
Really? What kind of nonsense was that?
“And so, what did you do?”
“I wrote my name on the problem board. And then Mrs. C laughed at me and said ‘You have a problem with yourself?’”
Even today, I still frown at the memory.
What I eventually deduced:
- Most five-year-olds might be able to write their name, but very few write in complete sentences yet. Therefore, blank space on Mrs. C’s problem board equaled—well—no problem! Ever.
- Mrs. C’s methodology for handling her classroom on a day-to-day basis was far different from what my husband and I observed at Open House. “I try to make things as easy for the students and myself as I can. The less complicated, the better,” she told a group of parents one day.
- By easy and less complicated she meant unencumbered by demands, decisions, and anything else that required more than marginal effort.
I found that mindset disturbing, and to this day, Mrs. C’s words and attitude still resonate. It was and is so heartbreaking.
God doesn’t grant us creativity to waste, but He does set the bar high. He expects us to use good judgment when using our talents.
For writers and many other professionals, words like easy and uncomplicated rarely mesh with success.
Most of us know by now that with anything worth having (a long-held dream, goal, or career), there’s going to be work involved.
Ignoring “problems,” neglecting the obvious, and expending little energy aren’t endearing qualities. They invite complacency and undermine God’s plan for our lives.
It’s a tough climate for writers just now, but heaven help us if we come to think of our craft as not worth the effort!
If you’re new to the writing journey or if you’ve been at the process a while, I hope you’ve decided to dig in your heels and not settle for the uncomplicated.
I hope you’ll think through, rise above, and go beyond the “problem boards” of life, yet be confident enough to realize, too, sometimes, that’s where the real stories are.
Go tackle some white space.
Don’t be afraid to write on it!
*This post first appeared on my blog.
Original Image Credit: MiraGregorCosic/Pixabay
Can you think of a time when you felt ignored or that your problem didn’t matter?
How did you handle it?
Writers, anything you’re tackling on your “problem board” today?
Cynthia writes Heartfelt, Homespun Fiction from the beautiful Ozark Mountains. A hopeless romantic at heart, she enjoys penning stories about ordinary people facing extraordinary circumstances.
“Cindy” has a degree in psychology and a background in social work. She is a member of ACFW, ACFW MozArks, and RWA.
Cindy loves to connect with friends at: http://www.authorcynthiaherron.com/
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10 Replies to “Got a Problem? Here’s the Solution!”
My writing problem today is going through my first chapters and finding and replacing repetitive words. The magnitude of that task is intimidating.
Ooooh! Aren’t those the bane? I just did that, too. BUT…it makes for a sharper read. 🙂
Best wishes as you proceed!
Cynthia, Thanks for sharing that story. I think it shows how good intentions sometimes go astray. It also shows how sharing an idea with someone first can be a good idea because had the teacher shared the idea with another kindergarten teacher, there might have been some sad feelings averted. In writing, I find the similar situation to be true, how a plot resolution sounded like a good idea, but talking about it and brainstorming and working through it can sometimes lead to an even better resolution. Merry Christmas.
So true, Tanya. Brainstorming ideas with others always adds to the creative process. And sometimes, I’ve found the solution is within easy reach…once I chop down a few of those figurative trees.
Merry Christmas to you, too!
Oh Cynthia…as a now-retired kindergarten teacher, I almost had tears at reading about your child’s experience. That is heart-breaking, and something that should not have happened. Sounds as though Mrs. C. would’ve done better at teaching older children!
Thank you for sharing this today, and I so agree with your statement about anything worth having involving hard work—my precious Mama instilled that in me when I was very young, and it’s stuck with me all these years! Right now I have lots of “holiday distractions” but know after the New Year I’ll be able to really dig in and tackle more (I’m thinking positive!). Merry Christmas!! 🙂
Patti Jo, at the time, it really unsettled our son. Now that he’s an educator himself, he’s determined to tackle some “white space” and he encourages his students to write on it. Thanks for validating some of what we felt.
My mama instilled the same values in me as yours did in you. Way to go, mamas!
Merry Christmas to you, as well!
Cynthia, this made me so sad. Your sweet son was asking for help. GRRRR. But I do appreciate what you’ve said. Writing is hard and wonderful and so totally worth it. I shall keep digging!
Aw, Sharee… If anything, our son determined from that experience that he wanted to be a teacher so he COULD help students learn. And today, he is (and does).
I likened that incident to the writing life because for every tough challenge, there are rewards, too. Sometimes, we may not see see them right away. But later, we can look back and say, “Oh, yeah. That’s what I learned. That’s what God was teaching me.”
Thank you for sharing your son’s experience, Cynthia. So much to learn from everyone in our lives, especially those little ones. Great post.
Laura, there’s always something we can learn, isn’t there? Even from tough experiences, we can take something away.
As writers, we know that well. And we grow from those times.
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