Monday, August 25, 2014

there's something you should know...

Cooking with my two year old is easier than cooking with my seven year old. This isn't even the slightest bit of an exaggeration. It hadn't really occurred to me to let Channing "help" but he was incredibly whiny all morning and I really needed to make lunch so I plopped him up on the counter and let him dump stuff in and stir. And for the first time in my seven years as a parent, cooking with my child was kind of enjoyable. It brought me more joy than frustration, more peace than stress. This was a whole new concept for me. I would tell him, "Stay there. Don't touch," when I walked to the cabinet for another ingredient. And heavens to betsy, he actually obeyed. He sat when I said sit. He kept his fingers out of the bowl when I said don't touch. Sure, he got slightly overzealous when he was stirring but with a little bit of help, he got the idea. It was darn cute, his chubby little hands copying his mama.
When I cook with Bennett, there are all kinds of repeated warnings and stern commands and frustration (on both of our parts) and neither of us is having much fun. He absolutely cannot keep his fingers out of the bowl. He still has trouble following directions. He dumps before he's supposed to dump and he's constantly putting things in the bowl that aren't supposed to be in there. It's slightly easier with Dawson but not much. I always see moms posting things about cooking with their kids and I've always wondered what I was doing wrong. Turns out I wasn't doing anything wrong. And for the most part, neither was Bennett. He was just being the very active child that he is. There is so much of his behavior that's extremely difficult to deal with in certain settings. (If you're new around here, not to be confused with my Spirited Child, Dawson. Bennett is laid back emotionally. He's just always been demanding physically.) But the longer I parent, the more I can see the big picture and realize that for every difficult part of their personalities, there's an equally amazing aspect that comes along with it. He may not have much self-control, but that boy is braver, tougher and stronger than any kid his age I've ever met. He's so incredibly smart and kind and is going to be a fully functioning member of society whether or not he can exhibit enough self-control at age seven to cook with his mom.

My brother, Graham, shared this article the other day and this portion of it jumped off the screen and hit me square in the heart:

One day I watched a nine-year-old boy as he led a group of children scrambling over Vasquez Rocks, a great sandstone formation that slants up out of the California desert. He was one of those magnetic, electrical, radiant boys; kind to the younger ones, strong, quick, inquisitive, sharp as a tack, his eyes throwing sparks in the clear air. It was a joy just to watch him, I said to the friend standing beside me. She told me he had just been diagnosed with ADHD.
When you see children who do not learn well in school, they will often display characteristics that would be valued and admired if they lived in any number of traditional societies around the world. They are physically energetic; they are independent; they are sociable; they are funny. They like to do things with their hands. They crave real play, play that is exuberant, that tests their strength and skill and daring and endurance; they crave real work, work that is important, that is concrete, that makes a valued contribution. They dislike abstraction; they dislike being sedentary; they dislike authoritarian control. They like to focus on the things that interest them, that spark their curiosity, that drive them to tinker and explore. 
Reading that made me so thankful that God brought the information before me and gave me the insight that I needed to make the best decision for Bennett's education at this point in time. We've never had him tested for ADHD but it wouldn't surprise me at all if he had it. (In fact, I'd be surprised if he didn't.) There's sure to be some frustration this school year on both of our parts but I'm fully confident that he won't be saying "I hate school" every day like he was last year. I read a comment on someone's Instagram several weeks ago that kept running over and over in my mind. The person that posted the photo said something about missing her sweet baby girl when she was napping. And someone commented that "that was the sign of a good mommy." I know she didn't mean anything by it, but wow, did it hit me the wrong way. I never would have commented back to that person with how it made me feel. She doesn't know me and like I said, I know she didn't mean to upset anyone by it. And if I've learned anything about the internet over the last few years, I've learned that constructive criticism or any disagreement needs to be said face to face. If it can't be said face to face, it probably doesn't need to be said. (But supporting another mama that's feeling criticized? Yes. Always, yes.)
But what I really wanted to say to that mom was that I haven't ever missed any of my children when they're sleeping. Ever. Like, not even for one half of a second. I've cheered and thrown a parade in my mind when they've gone to bed sometimes. I've felt a cringe of disappointment when they've woken up sooner than I expected. But missed them? Never. And you know what? I don't think that means I'm not a good mom. I think that means I have very VERY demanding children. And that I'm using up every shred of my energy to parent them with love and patience (and sometimes I royally stink at that part but sometimes I do pretty darn good.) I wanted to ask that mom if she thinks a mother of a special needs child misses them when they're sleeping? Or the mom of a colicky infant. Or the mom of three boys who often spends three full days a week as a single parent because of her husband's work schedule. Or the mom of a soldier who's been deployed for a year and is parenting four or five kids by herself. I'm pretty sure all of these women relish every second of naptime and bedtime and are still rockstar mamas when their babes are awake. I think a mom who misses her baby when she or he is sleeping has a very easy baby. And I'm glad for them. I'm not bitter towards them or envious of them. (Ok, maybe a teensy weensy bit.) I just know that I'm stretched a lot further than a lot of moms. But that in turn gives me characteristics that I'm thankful for. It has also given me an incredibly grace-filled perspective on others' parenting journeys. 
More grace, less judgment. (I'm working on this one. It's a daily battle, people.) And fewer assumptions that any child's behavior is directly linked to the way they're parented. Often times the nature is much stronger than the nurture. And so much of their nature, when nurtured correctly, will be seen as a strength as an adult. In the meantime, I'd really like a padded room with a jungle gym for my seven year old. Or perhaps we can just rent out some space at the zoo...


  1. I might have cried a little when my kids gave up their naps!! :D Micah gave his up at a year! :0 I mean by the end of the day, I am counting down the minutes until bed time! Seriously, we ALL need our break from each other! And I LOVE when they walk downstairs in the mornings, with their fresh faces asking if its "good morning time yet!" I'm with you...I don't miss them when they are sleeping! Micah and Andrew fight bedtime so bad that I may or may not throw a party when they are finally in bed! :) I'll have to try cooking with Andrew! It's fun with Macie, but a chore with Micah! Glad you shared! I would have never tried it with Andrew!

  2. I like what you said here, "And fewer assumptions that any child's behavior is directly linked to the way they're parented". I have been so guilty of that within my own nucleus since the beginning of children. I have always feared that I will somehow "screw them up". God has really been showing me lately that my kiddos are two very unique individuals that despite how we raise them do, in fact, have their own wills, personalities, preferences and ways of doing things that are completely original to them! I don't know why it has taken me so long to realize that they are each their own person...but it has. There is so immense amount of freedom in that!

    My heart's cry: More grace, less judgement and LOVE. Always, love.

  3. Can I get an amen for nap time!?? Occasionally, I would miss him, but mostly, I was happy to have some mama time.

  4. I've been Instagram-stalking you for a few months now, and I have to say what an encouragement you are to me. I have two very active boys. And I know God made me their mama for a reason, but I'm with you: I don't miss my kids when they're sleeping or at school.When my boys stopped napping, we started room time, an hour or so of them in their rooms on the weekend or every day during summer. I've justified it to myself by saying its good for them to play by themselves,and I'm a better mom when I have that break. But it's true, my boys are active and kinda hard. They are so sweet and pretty well-behaved, but boy do they wear me out. I really appreciated your honest words. I am the right mama for my boys, and I'm a great mom. Thanks for this reminder!


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