Tuesday, August 15, 2006

The Child, He Just Keeps Teaching Me

The little man has developed a new trick!


I'm so not ready for it.

I've only noticed it in the last week or so, though he may have been arguing long before that, but it's been so hot that I have struggled being, you know, observant. Because, I mean, if it's a matter of staying cool or paying attention to my child's behavioral trends, I don't think it's a big shock to any of us that I'll just be nudging that thermostat down a little bit if you don't mind 'cause it's getting a little stuffy in here.

So yes, back to the arguing. Basically (and seriously, now), here's the drill: about six times out of ten, if I say, "no," - to anything, really - his reply is, "But I say 'yes'!"

And then my head spins on its axis four times before the fury of middle earth erupts and I hiss dementedly that as inconvenient as a trip to time out might be, it's far better than remaining in the room with me. Who's about to lose it.

I'll explain.

You know how there are some people who can't take the sound of a crying baby? For whatever reason, that never bothered me. I have some strange ability to block out the crying, to not even notice it, really, unless it's 3 in the morning. Because if it's 3 in the morning, a feather could fall from one of Alex's pillows and hit the carpet in his bedroom ever-so-gently and I'd pop out of the bed like a cannon. It's a funny thing, the sensory experience of motherhood.

But just like some people can't handle repetitive high-pitched wailing, I can't handle sass. CANNOT. So this whole Talking Back Adventure - it makes me crazy. It shoots my blood pressure into the stratosphere, and I suddenly find that those people who suggest that you count to 10 before correcting your child's behavior - well, they're pretty much genius smarty pants people. Or something. Because if I DIDN'T count? If I just jumped straight into the disciplinary waters? It wouldn't be pretty, my friends. What it would be is Meltdown Central, ALL DAY LONG.

For me. Not the child.

But wait! There's a lesson!

A couple of days ago, after Time Out #14, after I was up to my ears in frustration because the child, he would not listen, it occurred to me, in a Big Gigantor Moment-O-Humility, that I'm really no different. That while I may have gotten to an age where I don't talk back to my parents, necessarily, I do talk back to God all the time.

All the time.

Only with me, it's not so much rebellious words - it's rebellious actions. It's selfishness. It's my arrogant belief that even though God is clearly moving me in a certain direction, even though I know and trust that He has my best interest at heart, even though I'm 36 years old and totally get the concept that obedience brings blessing - I (figuratively) stomp my foot, put my hands on my hips, and say, "NO! I'll do it this way! THIS WAY!"

And I wonder if maybe that's one reason why A.'s behavior of late bothers me so much, if maybe that's one reason why his defiance shoots my pulse rate up to 492. Because really, when I see him acting like that, it's sort of like looking in the mirror. And not liking what I see.

There's probably more truth in those last two sentences than I care to admit.

But you know what? There's a little hope in that analogy, at least for me. Because I know in my heart of hearts that God's grace and mercy know no limits. They're boundless. Free for the asking. And knowing that truth convicts me of the fact that I need to be on my knees, every single day, asking God for the strength and the wisdom to parent with intention, so that when Alex looks at his daddy and me, he sees the same picture: two people who want for his heart to be obedient, for his will to be lined up with ours, and for him to see - so clearly - that we love him deeply, endlessly, unconditionally. For A. to see two people who have grace and mercy to spare - and who extend it, liberally, to him.

That's not to say that Alex's behavior won't require discipline. Of course it will. Sometimes consequences are our greatest teachers. But I need to remember - so I'm reminding myself right now - that there is absolutely no reason that those consequences can't be administered with grace and mercy and patience and love. Because, quite honestly, I can't think of a single instance in my life when God has handled me any differently - stubborn though I may be.

And the trip down the long road to humility, it continues....


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