Thursday, October 29, 2009
The wild child
I was reading a blog yesterday that was featured on the SITS web site and as I commented on one of her posts I decided that the topic was worth a post on my blog. This woman has 3 little kids and made the fatal mistake of going to the bathroom. She returned less than 5 minutes later to find her oldest had flooded the kitchen/living room area by holding the auto water on her fridge down the whole time, one child standing naked on top of her high chair having removed her own poopy diaper and a baby working her way out of the swing. While she was laughing about it she also questioned whether these behaviors were on the good mother list or not. The idea being that clearly if she was a good mother her children would not behave that way. I assured her those behaviors were definately on the good mother list.
When Jake was little that certainly wasn't how I felt, the good mothers had well behaved children and the bad mothers (me) had wild and uncontrollable children. While I wasn't sure if I was a good or bad mother at the time I was sure I was doing my best and that I could trust God to give me the wisdom I needed to raise my wild and uncontrollable son.
Now Jake and I are both older and wiser. He is so easy at this age and makes me look like a good mother on such a regular basis that it is hard to look back at those early years and remember that he walked to the corner store by himself when he was 2 wearing just a pair of shorts and a mac and cheese mustache, decided to go do some shopping at the Disney store on the first floor while I was checking out at Sears on the 2nd floor when he was 4, spun around in a circle while holding an open bag of bird seed, wrote all over his body with a pen (and I mean EVERYWHERE), went outside, dropped his pants, squatted down and pooped in our front yard, put the race car in neutral while pretending to drive and pulled it out of the driveway, brought the entire canister of sugar downstairs to eat while watching tv, then eggs and flour (which turned into cookie dough in my vacuum), smashed a hole in is bedroom door and of course no childhood is complete until they have written on the walls. I could go on but you get the idea. Did all this mean I was a bad mother?
Once in school I got a list of "off task behaviors" from the teacher which included the horrifying, chews pencil, crawls to circle time instead of walking and jumps over his snow pants when he is supposed to be putting them on. There were a few truly inappropriate things on the list such as grabbing his friends and pretending to chock them when he got excited about something (what can I say, it was a phase). Needless to say he didn't get invited over for alot of play dates.
Then one day he grew up and his "bad" behavior became more cerebral. Suddenly he questioned everything! Jr high was a battle of wits, I had to be sharp.
Now one could certainly argue that a little more structure and discipline in our house wouldn't be a bad thing. Jake might have gone on more playdates, he might have been able to play at the mcdonalds play place, I might not have lost him at the mall and our home and property might be in better shape. But he learned the life lessons he needed for the long term and is turning into a wonderful young man.
My response to this woman's blog post was that good mothers aren't made in what their children do but in how they respond to what their children do. When Jake did all those things I didn't ignore him, I didn't berate him, I didn't beat him. Each behavior created an opportunity for me to teach him, nurture him, guide him, listen to him and love him. A bad mother isn't someone whose children mis-behave, a bad mother is someone who doesn't care.
OK John just came up and I was telling him about this post. His great insight is to think of the original parent and original children. No not Cain and Able...God and Adam and Eve. God was the perfect parent and yet his children, Adam and Eve, still disobeyed. If God's children can dis-obey I think we can give ourselves a break when our children do too.