Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Ungraceful Dancing

I have decided that life with a two and a half year old can sometimes resemble an ungraceful dance. Sometimes, little man takes me completely by surprise, and I fumble around for a while, trying to regain my parenting equilibrium. Case in point: Aydon and I went to the park this evening. He did a great job of leaving, and we were soon on our way to the car. I was in a hurry to get to the car, because there were giant mosquitoes that had just come out, and they were hungry! Two year olds really don't get the concept of "hurry, mosquitoes!" though, or at least my two year old doesn't. We neared the parking lot, and Aydon decided he wanted to climb over the little yellow blocks that mark the parking spots. Not just one, but every single one. The more I tried to rush him over those, the more he wanted to play on them. Finally, I said, "Aydon, one more time, and then we are going to the car!" Well, then he decided he wanted to try climbing the fence. Then he decided he wanted to run over and check out the trashcan beside our car. And me? Chasing him around like some confused mama hen. And, finally, me, with the words "Aydon, we are going to the car now. No more playing," grabbing his hand and holding on for dear life while he tugged a little before giving in and coming with me.

I couldn't help but chuckle at what I must have looked like to the other parents at the park. I decided to call my fumbling an "ungraceful dance," and I decided that I will always dance this crazy dance with confidence. Why? Because being a good mama means that I am a learning mama. With each new situation, I will dance ungracefully the first time, and then I will take the situation prayerfully to my heavenly Father, who teaches me to parent, and ask Him for wisdom and guidance. Next time there are mosquitoes and I am in a hurry, I will forewarn Aydon that we are going straight to the car, and that he will have to hold my hand. Maybe we will make a pretend game out of it even, like, "Let's pretend we are dogs. Let's bark while we walk to the car..." to distract him.

We went on an airplane trip recently. Little man did so so well! I think it is because we prepped him the week beforehand with what to expect. We role-played and pretended. We read him books about airports and airplanes. We talked about the noises we would hear. We discussed how he would have to stay close to us and hold our hands. We also gave him his own little suitcase that had wheels, and he confidently pulled that thing through the airport! So cute! Another mom and tot sat a few rows ahead of us. The entire trip, you could hear her snapping angrily at her daughter, "Sit down, please!" And, every few times she said this, she swatted her daughter on the leg. It was all I could do not to jump out of my seat and give that mama a piece of my mind. What happened to talking to your tot? What happened to a little firmness mixed with kindness? But then I realized that this poor mother was probably embarrassed and worried about what the other passengers would think of her. She was under pressure, and she likely did not know God, in whom she could find her acceptance and confidence. But for me, watching this momma cemented something again in my mind: I will dance ungracefully no matter who watches or what they think, for the sake of my child. It could have been my son who was trying to stand in his seat, or crying because he was scared. Being willing to do an ungraceful dance would have determined how I handled the situation (and by ungraceful I mean clumsy, not devoid of grace).

While we were on our trip, a sweet elderly lady smiled at us as we entered the mall. Looking at Aydon, she said, "Enjoy him. The time will pass quickly." Spoken by one who certainly must comprehend the profundity of her statement. Let's enjoy our kiddos. Let's do clumsy dances, and learn as we go. They will, after all, grow up quickly.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Pressing On, Trusting God!

We have been busy lately. We recently sold our house, and the very hot July weekend that we were moving, a wave of insane tiredness hit, and I took a pregnancy test, and, sure enough, I was pregnant! I had a miscarriage in February, and we had been trying to conceive again since then, with nothing doing, so it was definitely funny that at the busiest time of our year I found out that I was pregnant. God just really orchestrates life in such a way that we are constantly thrown onto Him, forced to let Him carry us and take us through!

Before we sold our house, I read an excellent book by Barbara Curtis entitled Small Beginnings. Barbara is a mom of a bunch of kiddos, and before she became a mom she was a Montessori school teacher. She has some really neat ideas in her book for playfully encouraging our toddlers to build certain skills. So, when we moved, I was excited to implement some of these activities. But first trimester being the way it is, I hardly had the energy to make it through each day. Then I went shopping for the materials I needed for the activities, and I couldn't find all of them. Yawn. Sigh. I started feeling hopeless and guilty. If I was a good mom, I would find a way to work these activities into my day.

I cried to my husband about my failure as a mom. He, of course, told me I was doing a great job and to trust God. Grudgingly, I decided, yet again, to let go of my ideas of who I needed to be as a mom, and what I needed to do, and trust God. Then I started noticing some things. While I cook, Aydon plays with some measuring cups of mine. Carefully, he pours water from one container into the other. It dawned on me: here he was practicing eye-hand coordination, concentration, and motor skills! I was at WalMart, and this cute little rug with a car track painted on it was on sale, so I picked it up for my little guy. He spends forever sitting on that rug, driving cars around, pretending, focusing. I hear him verbalizing: "put gas in the car, open the door, turn the key, drive away"! Aydon loves to draw with markers...he has always drawn spirals, but he just discovered how to draw lines. He draws dozens of lines all over the paper: fine motor skills, concentration, pre-writing, here we come. If he spills water, or when his toys are a mess, we clean them up together: servanthood, orderliness, here we come! I realized that we don't all fit into a mold as moms, and we shouldn't feel guilty about what we can or can't do. If you ask God, He can open your eyes to the things that are going well...and this gives you energy to make it through to the next day.

God is good! All the time! May our children see us trusting God as they learn about trust from us!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Is Spanking Biblical? Part 4: Why We Have Chosen Not To

I want to begin by saying that my husband and I were both spanked as children. Most American children are spanked, in fact. I love and respect my parents. My husband's and my mutual decision not to spank is not based on any resentment on our part against our parents, and there are many things both of our parents did that we want to emulate as we raise our children.

My husband and I planned to spank our children until our son reached Dr. Dobson's magical 18 months. Yes, we read "Dare to Discipline." But at 18 months, I could not for the life of me spot any signs of rebellion in my son. And when I imagined raising my hand, or using a wooden spoon, to spank him, I could not bear to even imagine the look of betrayal and hurt and misunderstanding that would surely flood his eyes and enter his being. Furthermore, I could not imagine being able to spank my son unless I was very angry, at which point I had no business raising my hand towards him. I approached my husband with my concerns/thoughts. We embarked on a months-long study of Scripture. We prayed for wisdom and discernment. We prayed that God would clearly show us if we were wrong in our conclusions. After much study and prayer, we determined that the Bible most definitely does not mandate corporal punishment. We could not believe how much scripture has been twisted to fit into our cultural views of child-rearing (and, yes, statistically, many American parents, Christian and non-Christian, spank). The Bible does not recommend hitting young children (the age at which we are told to spank) with any implement; it does not recommend spanking children on the bottom. It is surprising that when Paul, divinely inspired, speaks to parents about child-rearing, he does not use the term "spank" anywhere...nor is it even hinted at. We were shocked to realize that the word discipline refers to training, correcting, guiding, exhorting, admonishing our children, but is by no means a synonym for "spank."

We realized that to spank or not to spank is a choice that each Christian parent must make before God. While the Bible does not advocate spanking, and God does not model it, we cannot make a case that spanking is wrong biblically...therefore we will not judge Christian parents who choose to spank...they must make their choices before God. Though I strongly recommend that these parents do not follow the Pearls (at least two children have died under the hands of parents using their methods), Dobson (he really just uses extra-biblical advice based on his own experiences),  Tripp, or Ezzo (two of his children are allegedly estranged from him, by the way; and though his baby sleep-training methods have been challenged because many babies have become depressed or failed to thrive under his methods, he refuses to listen).

Furthermore, I have a temper. I am terrified of what I could do in a fit of temper if spanking were an option. 

This concludes my posts on "Is Spanking Biblical?" I want to talk more about discipline and natural and logical consequences, about parents as authorities, etc. Will talk more about that as we experience the joy of training and guiding and correcting our sweet little boy.