Monday, March 18, 2013

Teach Me

I knew it in the back recesses of my mind. I knew little children changed, had bad days, and tried to test authority. I was thinking they did this when they were two....or three.....or heck, thirteen. I didn't know at eleven months I would see the disobedient and sinful heart of a child emerge.

Don't get me wrong, a sinful heart is natural in a fallen world. But to hold a small little boy, who can't even walk, in your arms and pray over his heart as he pitches a major fit due to having his nails clipped makes you stop and realize that the parenting conferences were right: the heart is wicked wicked wicked. 

Last week I saw our "perfect" little boy collapse in the floor to scream because I didn't pick him up immediately. I watched as he spat his peas from his mouth again and again no matter the consequence. I observed as he tried to push our hands away when we moved a fork of undesirable food toward his face. I worried as his little rebellion led to repeats of the same meal on his tray--and his responses of refusal and anger made us go an entire day without him eating. 

I finally saw my little boy for who he is: the little boy I adore with all my heart, but the one who was indeed "born into trouble as surely as the sparks fly upward" (Job 5:7). I had battled this little attitude all day and finally reached the breaking point late one evening. 

Kyle was working late and I decided to go ahead and feed G supper. Supper was the same meal as lunch...and there were green beans involved. Lunch had been a disaster of screaming, and I had ended the meal early saying "Ok, son, if you won't eat now you can have this for supper." 

Supper quickly swirled down the drain. He spat out the green bean. Using my stern voice and my index finger and thump, I flicked his lip. "NO. We do NOT spit out our food." Of course, that sent him into fit mode and he refused to take another bite. So I tried putting the bean in his mouth. That obviously didn't work. After 10 minutes of his loud refusals, and a few swats to his diapered bottom, I buried my head in my hands and wept. Of course, at this exact moment, when my mascara was running down my face, my chest was heaving in sobs, and our son was trying to crawl from his highchair, my husband walked in. 

Bless him, that wasn't the welcome he expected. I knew the door opened, but I didn't see him. All I heard was his backpack hitting the floor, his boots slowly walking toward the table, and then I felt two strong hands on my shoulders. 

"Move. Let me have him." 

I don't think any declarations of love or bouquets of roses could have said "I love you" more than those saving words. I didn't actually do either of those things--I had been crying so hard I went to the bathroom and threw up. It's a problem I have in pregnancy...crying till I can't breathe and then vomiting. 

After I tossed whatever food was on my stomach, I went back to the table where my husband was having no better luck than I had experienced. But he was an iron wall with no exhausted tears. A battle of wills was taking place. Kyle's voice was soft, but firm. Gracin was beyond angry and after several minutes of crying, refusing to eat, and receiving quick corrections, Kyle removed him from the table and took him directly to bed. 

at 6:30. 

I sat on the couch, trying to deep-breathe, hiccuping, and blowing my nose. My heart was hurt. When did our little boy stop liking whatever I put in front of him? He had eaten green beans so many times before! When did he stop being obedient and eating the food in his mouth? When did he start trying to control us by pushing us away? 

Parenting suddenly hit me in the face: this isn't a fun game of "mommy and daddy" we play everyday. This is work. This is painful. It truly does, "hurt me more than it hurts you." Wow. My mom was right. 

Being a mama isn't just about reading books, wiping noses, kissing boo-boos, curling up to watch cartoons, or singing songs. It's about training little adults. Yes, Gracin is small, but my focus is on raising him to be a strong man--not a baby. It didn't matter if he ate the darn green beans. It was the heart of disobedience that was the problem. Being parents means we guide and correct the heart,  after all, "A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of" (Luke 6:45). 

G did eat the green beans again for breakfast. I baked some fish and fed him meat with each bite of green veggie. He knew the veggie was there, and tried to spit it back a time or two, but after correction decided to eat the food anyway. I was so happy he ate, but my heart was crying out to the Father the entire time, "teach me how to teach him." 

I feel like that is the cry of my heart each morning as I pick him up from his crib, bounce down the stairs, tickle his tummy, pour him a cup of milk, and change his wet diaper....."teach me, God, teach me how to teach him." 

Parenting is so precious and yet so difficult. In it I am brought to my knees begging for wisdom. "If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault. But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind" (James 1:5-6). 

I'm asking for wisdom. I'm believing too. 

No comments: