Friday, November 1, 2013

Lessons from China Plates and Little Boys

Today's guest post is from an online friend, Jessica Morris, whom I found out had my children's books read to her when she was a child! (Yes, I'm feeling old.)

A few years ago, inspired by a picture seen somewhere (pre-Pinterest) I decided it would be adorable to have mis-matched fine china dish set for our every day dishes. Beautiful pieces can be picked up at thrift stores for about $1, so I knew that the investment was do-able and that, should any break, they would be easily replaced. With two little boys that is important.

What I failed to anticipate was how using fine china dishes as our every day dishes would change us. Change me.


1. It has been an incredible lesson for me learning how to respond to my children when they break a plate (or anything else that is breakable.) I want my children to know how to properly handle fragile things, and thus they are exposed to them. But they are children, and accidents do occur. God has used the breaking of earthly things at the hands of childish mistakes to teach me to consider my words carefully; to be prepared with something to say that conveys concern for the child rather than an emotional response to whatever item is broken. And it has been incredible to watch my boys compassion develop; when they break something they show a sincere sorrow, free from the fear of shaming or anger from their mother. (more on this - When Things Break.)

2. As time has passed with the usage of china dishes (they were 2 and 3 when we started, they are now 5 and 6) they have developed excellent discernment and self control when carrying a stack of china dishes. It might sound silly, but it is incredibly precious when I realize that I trust them fully. They have developed a skill as a result of a few $1 plates having met its death. A worth while investment for young boys who are now fully capable of setting and clearing a table full of breakable dishes and serving platters.


3. They have developed an eye for details. Certainly, more goes into this than can simply be attributed to random China dishes, however because each of our plates are unique they have their favorites among them, as well as their reasons for them being their favorite. My youngest likes the plate that has dark flowers, as uneaten food blends in to the plate. The daintily painted flowers, leaves and swirls - and the colors! - have all been noted and discussed too.

4. The dishes, along with other thrifted pretties for our table, make for a nice looking table. To my surprise, my boys have noticed and commented on how special they feel when the table looks nice. It is such a simple way to cherish my family and make our home a haven for them.


Jessica enjoys photographing every day moments, playing Lego with her boys, cooking (without a recipe, to her husbands chagrin), and long car rides with the husband to talk to en-route. She has been blogging since the early 2000's, back in the days when it was "live journaling", and can be found at jessicalynette.com where she writes about home, life, schooling and her two boys. 



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11 comments:

  1. I have so enjoyed reading this post, especially as a lover of mismatched china myself. They remind me of the banqueting table our King has set for us, and in all of our uniqueness we will all radiate exquisite beauty. The lessons we can learn from everyday, seemingly mundane things are precious and I thank you for sharing the lessons your heart has learned.

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    1. Thanks for stopping by, Jeannie. I used my "good china" (not an expensive set) with my children on a regular basis and after about age two they ate off glass plates with us. I learned some of Jessica's lessons, but wish I had learned more when my kids were small. I'll use them with my grandchildren!

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    2. Jeanie - what a beautiful picture of us banqueting around the King's table. I will have to share that with my little ones at our next meal :)

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  2. In Martha Stewart's first cookbook, she said she got china settings at thrift stores, too, because they were pretty and inexpensive. What a beautiful way to teach children to respect the dishes they eat on.

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    1. Does Martha Stewart offer other ideas along these lines too? I will have to look for that cookbook :)

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  3. I'm a lover of mismatched china, too -- partly for the fun of it, who has which plate, what that means. But I truly appreciate how you used the opportunity to teach being careful about precious things . . . without creating a panic moment when the inevitable oops happens. Thanks for sharing.

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  4. What a lovely idea! I've done this in a small way with tea party pieces for the grandkids but never thought of it for normal eating. Then again, I am the klutziest of the bunch and always in a hurry so I lean more towards paper plates. Fortunately though, both my sets of grandkids have parents using breakable dishes. Thanks for a wonderful point of view! :)

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    1. Paper plates would make clean up time much more enjoyable!! ;)

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  5. wonderful post! I have often thought that plastic-plastic everything might be holding my children back in the manners department. It's amazing how quickly we learn to care for fragile things when we actually use fragile things. And I must say, it all tastes so much better when eaten of 'real' dishes! What a lovely table you set, and what a lovely experience you are giving your family. One day I expect their wives will thank you!

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    1. A total paraphrase of an inspiring quote I once read is "expect of your child ... and they will so do..."
      Expect that they cannot do something (say, handle fragile dishes), and they will meet your expectation.
      But, to continue my total paraphrase of the quote; "If you will raise your expectations, and accept and encourage their faltering steps towards it, they will rise to the occasion."

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  6. Great post full of wonderful lessons - thanks for sharing with us at Inspire Me Monday at Create With Joy!

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