Before Hubs and I were parents, we were actually OUTSTANDING parents. We were friends with a few couples who had already ventured into the arena of WE HAVE KIDS NOW, and goodness! We watched what our friends did, and then we went home and made bold announcements that we would NEVER LET OUR CHILDREN EAT FAST FOOD and we would ALWAYS PLAY OUTDOORS INSTEAD OF WATCHING TV, and even SHOULD WE INSTALL A GARDEN, FOR FRESH VEGETABLES? And that was even before eating whole and organic was a real trend. Hubs and I grew up on white Wonder Bread, RC Cola and Jiffy Pop popcorn, and that was good enough for us… but our kids? They were probably going to need peas and broccoli harvested out of our own backyard garden.
And then we HAD a baby. If we thought we were good parents before the boy was born… well… we thought we were even BETTER at parenting AFTER he arrived. That baby slept through the night FOREVER AND EVER, AMEN at the tender age of three and a half months. We were basically Baby Whisperers, who had invented our own program of Sleep Training, and we were prepared to share it with the world, whether the world wanted to hear about it or not. When my sister’s second child wouldn’t sleep through the night, we insisted that IF YOU’D JUST DO IT LIKE WE TOLD YOU TO DO IT, HE WOULD HAVE BEEN A CHAMPION SLEEPER BY NOW. When Sister announced, with tears, “I HAVE BEEN following your advice,” we assumed she wasn’t.
Our one and only child was so well behaved, people complimented us on him all the time. We knew we deserved those comments of praise, because LOOK AT THIS FINE, UPSTANDING LITTLE GENTLEMAN WE HAVE CREATED! The boy didn’t argue. He didn’t push and shove. He was obedient and kind and good.
Because Hubs and I were such fantastic parents.
Oh, people. I want to go back to the year 2000 and slap my prideful self. And then I want to go back to the year 2006 and re-slap that kindergarten mom who was so confident with what she was accomplishing in parenting.
Thankfully, the Lord decided… in 2012… that it was time to slap us Himself, when he said, “Let there be a Thing 2 in their lives.”
And that was that, as far as us thinking we were professionals at parenting, who should write self-help books together for struggling moms and dads.
Thing 2 was born bold. He was born with a stubborn streak wider than the Mississippi River. He was born as a full-on, straight-up, all-the-way extrovert, into a family of three quiet, introverts. He was loud from the get-go. He didn’t sleep at three and a half months. Or even three and a half YEARS. He climbed everything there was to climb; he jumped off of everything he had shimmied up. He pushed and shoved his peers. He spoke with sass and a strong will and authority. Oh! Don’t get me wrong. He is kind and good and wonderful and loving and everything else a mama would want in her little boy, but his personality is simply LOUD AND IN CHARGE. He is a leader, wherever he goes. He has never encountered a fight that he wanted to back down from, and the answer is YES, when people ask the question, “Has he been to the principal’s office yet this year?”
In hindsight, the boy has never been in trouble at school. Ever. And he’s now a junior. So, imagine my surprise when our beloved school principal called me on the phone to say, “Well, Thing 2 certainly didn’t START the brawl, but he did, indeed, FINISH it. A little fellow threw a shoe at him and missed, and then he threw a second shoe at Thing 2, and he missed again. So Thing 2 picked up one of the shoes and threw it back at this little boy, and there was a bloody nose and tears, and SWEET HOLY MONKEYS! DID I MENTION A BLOODY NOSE?!”
Apparently this child underestimated the fact that Thing 2 doesn’t miss.
Hubs and I had never used behavior charts with the boy. There was no need to have them at our house, because OUR BEHAVIOR DOESN’T NEED CORRECTING. We were, after all, top-notch parents, who knew exactly what we were doing.
God, bless us and forgive us.
With Thing 2, we use behavior charts at our house all the time. We get stickers, and we get rewards, and we are learning that there are good consequences and bad consequences. And yes! WE ARE FINALLY LEARNING THE ART OF MAKING GOOD CHOICES THE MAJORITY OF THE TIME. And Hubs and I have learned that SOMETIMES a child’s personality just leans toward being quiet, as it strives to please people. SOMETIMES a child’s personality is just naturally obedient, because the Lord made him that way. SOMETIMES it has absolutely nothing to do with the prideful parents, who boldly took full responsibility for EVERYTHING GOD HAD DONE HIMSELF.
Hubs and I had to let that sink in.
We took credit for what God had done Himself, with His creation.
We are happy to announce now that we no longer take credit for what God has accomplished, all by Himself. We strive now, in fact, to point our fingers straight at Heaven and say, “He’s done it!”
And, people, through God’s help, our behavior charts are turning into successes, as we learn that introverts really can raise extroverts. After all, God wouldn’t have given us an extrovert, if He didn’t believe we could get him raised up to be a well-behaved, Christian boy too!
This week, Thing 2 wanted to work toward watching the original Star Wars movie with his Bubbie. Actually, that’s not fully true. What he WANTED to work toward was watching the very latest Star Wars movie, which is rated PG-13 and full of grownup mayhem that may be a little overwhelming for a sheltered six-year-old, who has never gotten to watch violence on TV. What we compromised with was the ORIGINAL Star Wars movie, straight out of the 1970s, and he was okay with that. So, the little fellow made a lot of good choices this week, and he stuck a lot of stickers on his chart, and he earned a movie day, complete with popcorn and Gatorade, which he also threw a chip in to bargain with before the deal was sealed.
And THAT, y’all, is how THIS came to happen today:
Thing 2 has officially been initiated into the world of Star Wars. Now, when the kids at school ask him if he wants to play Star Wars at recess, he doesn’t have to ask them who Darth Vader is any more. And Bubbie was actually VERY PATIENT, as he fielded and answered 22,000 questions during the show. The only time the patience wore thin was when I heard him ask, “Oh, my gosh! Did you brush your teeth this morning? Your breath is awful! When you’re six, you have to brush your teeth every morning… EVEN ON SPRING BREAK!”
That’s what brothers are for. Always there to let you know when you should have used some Colgate.
I wouldn’t trade these two boys of ours for anything. They both represent everything that is wonderful and good. And Hubs and I may not be the PERFECT parents that we once believed ourselves to be, as God has opened our eyes to our sins of pride lately, but we feel like we’re PRETTY GOOD at wrangling small boys, as we steer them toward the Lord.
And then we let God take all of His credit, all by Himself. God’s force is with us!