Sunday, April 02, 2006

Okay, So Now I'm REALLY Humble

Today has been one of those days that has humbled me to my parenting core. David, too. Because our child? The cute blue-eyed boy? He's gone crazy. Lost his mind. Cuckoo.

I don't even know if I have the words to describe it. However, it's probably important to point out that just then, when I was typing "describe," I accidentally typed "prescribe," which I feel certain is my subconscious talking and saying, "YOU NEED SOME MEDICATION, MA'AM!"

The child, he is suddenly SO DEMANDING, and it is making me crazy. It's making his daddy crazy. I think it's even making the dogs crazy. I told Bubba in an email earlier tonight that David and I both agree that maybe we need a slight break from the world of parenting. I believe my exact words were, "We have both agreed that if someone wants to come get Alex for a few days, we will throw his luggage to the curb and throw him in the car if someone will slow down just long enough for us to open the door." I'm kidding, of course, because we would actually insist that someone at least pull into the driveway and stop their car so that we could install the carseat. Oh, we take care of our own.

We started the day off with a bang when the only activity in which Alex wanted to participate was climbing onto my shoulders while I was sitting on the couch and then doing a half-nelson onto the cushions. So I figured maybe we needed to get out and about. Because he has a deep and abiding love for Publix, he's always up for a trip to the grocery store, but when I spilled my delicious fountain diet Coke (with ice, of course) in the middle of the produce section, Alex apparently felt that his very heart had been ripped from his body - we're talking major, "hey, did you see that blonde woman with the screaming child over by the onions 'cause, um, STAY AWAY"-level meltdown.

I'm not exactly sure what I did to get him calmed may have had something to do with a doughnut, a sippy cup filled with Sprite, and a bag of lemons featuring a picture of the cast of Sesame Street, though I can't be exactly sure.

Before I had a child, I would look at a toddler acting like Alex in the grocery store and think, "HMPH! His parents have lost all control." But David and I do discipline. We discipline as consistently as we know how, and in a loving way, and we work very hard not to undermine each other. There's no good cop / bad cop in our house. We're both just cops. Well, technically I'm the cop. David's chief of police. :-) Of course we're not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but we try to be very intentional about following through with our word. We know it's in Alex's nature to test us, and we know that we just have to get through this stage (at which point there will be another white-knuckle phase just around the corner). But my word it can be frustrating.

Tonight Alex refused to eat supper. He looked at his plate, pushed it away, then looked at me like, "Next option, please...this is not to my liking." David calmly explained that I had prepared the meal for our family, and it was Alex's only choice. If he didn't want to eat, fine, but there would be no alternate meal forthcoming, and oh, by the way, Alex would continue to sit with us at the table. I was so grateful for the way David handled it, because do you know what I wanted to do with that plate of food? Throw it. I wanted to throw it. I wanted to pick it up, and aim it, and hurl it at the back door. If you've ever seen Coal Miner's Daughter, I wanted to do exactly what Doo did when he took Loretta's homecooked meal, threw it on the porch, and then whistled for the dogs to come and get it. Because I am MOTHER OF THE YEAR.

The rest of the night was one test of wills after another. Get down. Stand up. Don't touch that. Be careful. That's not a toy. Don't push. Alex and David had more father-son "talks" than I could count. David's great about balancing the discipline with encouragement when Alex makes good choices. Me? I just stand around and try not to scream. I do, however, think that David came pretty close to losing it when Alex took the cup that we use to wash his hair, filled it up with water, and then poured the water all over the bathroom floor. Don't you wish you lived here?

Suffice it to say that we were both ready for Alex's bedtime. All three of us needed a break. So I climbed in bed with Alex, we said prayers (lots of prayers for PATIENCE tonight), gave hugs and kisses, and then we did our bedtime farewell routine. At some point in the last couple of months Alex has started saying to me all the things I used to say to him, so it goes something like this: "Okay, Mama. Night night. God made you special and He loves you very much! I love you! Love ya!"

It's a perfectly natural reaction, by the way, if you feel a little lightheaded from all the sweetness in that last sentence. So consider yourself warned: I'm about to do serious damage to your insulin level.

After this day of childrearing "challenges" (that's the nice word), my sweet baby boy looked me straight in the eyes, and he started to sing. It took me a minute to figure out what he was saying, but then I caught on. If you know anything about Veggie Tales, you can sing along:

"I thank God for this day,
For the sun in the sky,
For my mom and my dad,
For my piece of apple pie!

For our home on the ground,
For His love that's all around,
That's why I say thanks every day!

Because a thankful heart is a happy heart!
I'm glad for what I have,
Thats an easy way to start!

For the love that He shares,
'Cause He listens to my prayers,
That's why I say thanks every day!"

Then he said, "Mama, now you sing" - and we sang it together - and I was reminded so much that, some days, the little man teaches me way more than I teach him. It was exactly the encouragement that I needed. It made me cry, honestly, because even in the midst of all our "terrible three" battles, his little heart is getting it. Just a little bit. He's getting it.

And his mama is, too.


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