Saturday, August 25, 2012

The Practical Power of a Wet Blanket

Mom Ellen shared a unique insight into her daughter Beth, an 11 year old with a pure spirit recently.

"Beth isn't too popular in some circles in her 6th Grade Class," Ellen smiled.  "Some of her friends think she's a wet blanket for some of their adventurous ideas!"

One more evidence Mom is getting through to a daughter on the brink of adolescence.

Gramma Rosie, Commander of the Sucker Patrol reads to
Beth and James circa 2004
Gramma Rosie and I have known Beth since she and her family moved into the other end of our duplex eight years ago.  She was three years old, raised in a family with regular family prayer, nightly family dinners, weekly family home evening and home school.  She is at once obedient and curious; intelligent and wise; fun and flirty; industrious and a piano virtuoso--in short:  The perfect kid!

Lesser mortals hate perfect kids!

Great Gramparents love 'em--and provide encouragement for even better being.  Leader/parents should spend time and energies encouraging good projects and avoid harping to stop lesser initiatives!

One day, we invited Beth and her little brother Preston over to test out a bright red toaster oven I'd aquired for my Santa business. My mom learned to cook on a friend's Easy   Bake oven..and in that tradition, we wanted to be good friends with a skill building experience as a gift.  In situations like this I try to provide all the fixin's and let a kid test out theories.  Beth had helped fix dinner at home....but coooking for the sheer joy of it was a little new to her.

As our conversation progressed that Saturday morning, Beth was on the way to making little pizzas with frozen biscuit dough, little pepperonis and bottled pizza sauce.    I didn't know how to turn on or modulate the newly purchased oven---and neither did Beth.  (Her little brother was having fun as four year olds do with Spider Man toys in the corner)   but in the same spirit that Madam Curie must have had to test pitchblend, Beth started carefully adjusting knobs on the little thing.   Lights came on and off, heating elements glowed and went dark and it was everything I could do to keep Gramma Rosie from swooping in with a solution or advice.  After a while, Beth figured it out for me!

Her mood, as coached by encouraging parents has been, "I don't know, but I'll try!"   You can't ask for any better attitude than that!

As for Wet Blanket---Beth doesn't go to slumber parties.  Wiser heads discourage the gang gatherings to pierce ears, try unknown slosh and tell forbidden secrets of the flesh.  

Stealing hubcaps; shop lifting; other thrill-a-minute activities get run through a parent-coached filtering system in Beth's head...and guide her along life's way.  Good on ya, Mom and Dad!

"Train up a child in the way she should go, and when she is old she will not depart from it!"  Proverbs 22:6

Some child in ten or fifteen years is going to be born to Beth as a young mother and be the better for it!

I run several blogs:  Teaching Moment Boosters, Santa's Cosmic Sleigh (Howe to Build your Own North Pole!) and the Naysayer--mostly political commentary and reflections.   These blogs are all about different aspects of human engineering.

The practical value of a wet blanket is the down to earth restraint that comes with age, experience and caution.  It has to be strong and deals from a position of strength, of cool, of popularity and just being right most of the time.   Beth has this quality.  So does our daughter Sally.  We call it the Old Head on Young Shoulders Syndrome.

The Naysayer has a place in civilization.  In the four personality quadrants, the Guardian is a personna of reserve--rarely jolly or adventurous; not often innovative or daring--certainly creative in a more negative way than gangbuster positive --but the power of NO and the guts to make it stick is a virtue.

Elder Dallin H. Oaks teaches there are eight kinds of "revelation" and restraint is one of those.

 I've heard the story of a powerful naysayer in a closed door meeting of an LDS Stake High Council, who countered a proposal by a stake president with a firm NUH-UH!- for a great idea that would have taken a lot of work.  It was scotched by man who was in a position to counsel and gently but firmly refuse an idea at the very beginning.

Of course the stake president had not done his homework and pre-sold the idea beforehand--and ultimately that did him in.

The idea was potentially a wonderful one!

The concept was to hold a giant fair in a nearby public school yard-meadow with hand carts, food, fun and festivities--to celebrate the sesquicentennial of the pioneers' arrival in the Salt Lake Valley in 1847.  

Arranging for the handcarts, gathering all the food and marshalling the local saints' participation was a daunting task, but overcome in the mind of the church leader with the thought that rubbing elbows in such joyful toil would bring Saints together and sharpen their appreciation for the sacrifices of their forbearers in the Valley--but one man, one jolly loving man said, "NOPE!" and caused more than a little concern.

Wet blankets can stop blessings, too!

I know another man on the same High Council who was very good at stopping half-baked ideas from going forward.   This attorney used scripture, an encyclopedic knowledge of the Handbook of Instructions and common sense to send otherwise interesting proposals back to the drawing board for more work and more thought, seldom to see the light of day again!  Today that man serves at the highest local level of leadership.

To Beth and the other Naysayers who hold to a standard at some often temporary cost to themselves. You go girls, uh, guy(s)  Progress half done is often worse than none at all!


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