Simplifying Your Child’s Chores

We moved into our new home a few weeks ago. My children were helping me put things away. Matti, my married daughter was helping in the kitchen. The home I left had more kitchen storage space so we had to be clever in order to make things fit in this kitchen. Matti asked a question about the place we were putting the skillets and my answer was was an old and familiar one to her, “Just think of the space as a puzzle.” She smiled and we reminisced about how many times in her life that I’ve connected completing a task in the home to working a puzzle. When I teach my young ones how to put away clean dishes, I show them how the rectangle-shaped casseroles are stacked together separately from the circle ones and pie plates. Then I say, “It’s just like working a puzzle,” hoping to connect the job to something familiar in their world. Not long ago I showed my 13 year old son how to iron a shirt. I ironed each section in the order that makes sense to me and then without thinking I said, “A shirt is like a puzzle. You have two front sections, two shoulder sections, two back sections, two sleeves and a collar.” He unenthusiastically nodded. What would you expect from a 13 year old. Cheers and hurrahs? My children might get tired of my perpetual use of metaphors but its how I think. If I can hook a new idea to an old one I can understand and retain it. Writers use metaphors to enrich their stories. Jesus used metaphors to teach a lesson. Metaphors in literature make our brain dance a little jig and carry the story deeper into our hearts. Metaphors used wisely make a story more interesting and a lesson more meaningful. I love it when an author uses a metaphor as a motif. In Escape from Warsaw, the sword is the motif but it is also a metaphor for truth. In Les Miserable the silver candle stick is sprinkled throughout the story. It is a motif that keeps our mind on track and it’s a metaphor to remind us of the richness of forgiveness and grace.

Living Outside the Lines uses metaphors to create interest, teach and inspire.

Are metaphors interesting to you?

Do you use them to teach or inspire?

As a reader what are your thougths about metaphors?

As a writer do you use metaphors? Why? Why not?

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  1. I love metaphors! They give a picture and concreteness to something that is often vague and abstract. One of my favorites is the lost son in the story of the prodigal son, but the the stark reminder is also present of the older son and how he isolated himself in his self-righteousness and resentment…both against his father and his younger brother. He found no joy in serving his father all those years. How sad!

    Another rich source of metaphors in the Bible are those found in the Psalms. They provide snapshots of God that a simple description doesn't provide. Speaking of Him as our Refuge during a storm. That description provides material for meditation for a considerable amount of time during times of ease, but especially during difficult times. What does that mean? How does that play out? What comfort!

  2. I enjoy good metaphors but am not always good about using them. I agree that they are very useful for teaching, which is where I use them more than anywhere else. Algebra I can't be taught in our home without a lot of metaphors about fruit — these are pineapples and these are oranges. Can they be meshed together? (Sometimes you can have fruit salad and sometimes you can't!) lol.

  3. I love the idea of working things like a puzzle. It's the same way my brain works – especially for spatial planning. My mom is the queen of making tiny cardboard models to "try" things out…her special method for puzzling things out. Metaphors work pretty well, don't they? Fun post!

    • Tiny cardboard models, how novel:) Reminds me of an architectural school. I would love to see some of her models. Your mom sounds very special.

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