Saturday, December 18, 2010

Growing Up

We went the mall yesterday to do some Christmas shopping. Usually, at the mall, we let our little guy walk without holding our hands as long as he stays close. But yesterday the mall was unusually crowded, so we told him that he needed to stay right beside us, and sometimes he would would need to hold our hands. Marvelously, he reached up and held my hand the whole time. I reminded my husband how a few months ago, we had to endure meltdowns because our son did not want to hold our hands; because he wanted to go a different direction/speed then we were going. At one point, our son exclaimed, "Look at that!" He started to run, and I said, "Aydon, wait! Show mommy what you want to see." And he did! Communication is wonderful.

Then later in the day we went to Barnes and Noble to hang out and let our little guy play with the wooden train there, which he loves. I smiled as I watched him interact with the other children, not take their trains away, and walk around them, rather than shoving them, when they were in his way. How many grueling days we have spent teaching our son to walk around the kids who are in his way, teaching him to give one of his trains to children who have no trains! Then, as we were leaving the bookstore, our son surprised us by throwing a tantrum because he was not ready to leave. The beautiful thing was that both my husband and I understood that he was overtired, and we understood what it was like to have to leave an activity that you love, and we were able to respond with empathy without giving in (not to say we weren't tempted to be embarrassed, but when we stand in confidence in God's acceptance of us, we don't need to worry about what others think!).

Today I took my son to the grocery store for a quick trip. Usually, he rides in the cart, but if I have a small list, I let him walk. It is good practice for one day when I cannot fit him and the baby into a cart. I told him ahead of time, "No candy and no chocolate today." I also told him that he needed to stay close to me; then we could go really fast and get home quickly so that he could play. He held onto the cart the whole time, staying close (this is really nothing short of miraculous!), "helping" me push it.

I take very little credit for my son's great behavior these last few days. He is growing up, and he is able to communicate with me; that solves so many issues. We have definitely had two mottoes with our son: always follow through with what we say, no matter what, with kindness and empathy AND repeat, repeat, rinse, and repeat when we are teaching him a skill (like walking beside the grocery cart at the store). But I am definitely not a perfect parent who knows it all! I will not be shocked if, in a week or so, some new and challenging behavior surfaces, and I am left muddled and confused and running to God for direction.

So why am I writing this post? To remind myself that children go through stages as they grow up-some of them pleasant, some of them not so pleasant. Sometimes we will fell worn out and want to give up. Sometimes we will wonder if what we are doing is really working. I want to look back and remember that children grow up, quickly in fact! Many difficult-to-deal-with behaviors just fade away (not to say we ignore harmful behavior, like hitting other children). I hope that someday when we are old and our children are grown, we can look back with joy at the days our children were growing because we took growth in stride, enjoying our children for who they are. May God continue to remind us/give us the strength to parent with patience.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for sharing this encouragement for gentle parents. <3