Little man has recently begun exhibiting an incredible amount of independence. While this is a good thing, and it is part of growing up, it can be unpleasant at times. Especially when he decides that he absolutely will not do something that we have asked him to do, or absolutely must do something that we have asked him not to do. I feel like I am in Parenting 101 all over again, but I am, believe it or not, actually enjoying being a student, because I know that I will learn so much through this.
First of all, this new level of independence is teaching me that I must always be quick on my feet! If I am going to say "no" about something, I need to be right beside little man when I say it, so as to enforce the no (usually by holding a little hand and remaining calm when he shouts "NO!" back). If I am going to ask little man to do something, then I need to be right beside him with this offer: "Can you do it by yourself, or do you need me to help you?" I am learning that being quick on my feet does pay off...little man realizes that my words do have meaning, even though he may not like them.
I am also learning humility. Like today, when we were in line at a fast-food restaurant, and little man decided he wanted to eat dessert rather than a meal. Of course, the answer was, "no, only a meal today." Boy was I surprised when my formerly mellow little guy began to shriek, "No! I want cake!" Solution for me? "Eat humble pie, you are parenting before God and not before man." So, I stepped out of line and removed little man to a quiet area. I hugged him and told him that I loved him. I said simply, "you need to sit here (beside me) until you are ready to listen to mommy." When he calmed down, I gave him a simple choice: "Eat a meal here at the restaurant, or go home. No dessert." He chose option A, of course, and was such a happy, peaceful little guy as we returned to the line. I am so happy, yes HAPPY, for this incident. Every time I parent through the eyes of grace, I relax a little more into my Heavenly Father's love for me. I am so thankful that He deals gently with me so that I can deal gently with my child.
I love being on my little guys' team like this! Yes, I am the authority in his life, and sometimes that means that I will say no if something is unhealthy. Yes, little man needs to learn how to calmly respond to mommy if he doesn't like something she is telling him. We have lots of do-overs and practice daily, with me often asking little man, "how can you say that more nicely?" and then supplying him with an example if necessary. But I AM on his team. He need not fear harsh retribution when he acts childishly. I can see that he will be a strong man someday, able to stand by his own beliefs, no matter what others say or do. This is something I want to nurture and guide in the right direction. I can see that little man has just realized that he is his own person, separate from me, with desires that sometimes differ from mine. Now he is in the sometimes no-fun place of learning that he is under authority. May God give me and his daddy wisdom as we nurture and guide this precious little one; how I love being in His classroom!