Something I’ve been thinking about a lot of late is my parenting goals. Its no secret that Avilynne has totally embraced the infamous Terrible Two’s, for anyone who has been around her for a few hours (or minutes, sometimes). Yes indeed, before her actual birthday she threw all sweet innocent babyhood out the window and started livin’ it up with drunken sippy-cup binges, screaming, head-banging tantrums and total self-absorption, manipulating the very adults she flirts with regularly. To me, the early dawn of the Terrible Two’s feels greatly unfair. A month, let alone a day extra of a toddler with this disease is one too many. But who am I joking? Its not like I was preparing for this although I have been thoroughly warned. Who is ever prepared to find out their child is diagnosed with a terminal illness, even if you are warned?
Of course, that might seem like an exaggeration. Yet, in a since its not, spiritually speaking. The Terrible Two’s just might be that reminder to us that our child is not the perfect concoction of our blissful marital love; instead its a little human that is also a little sinner. One time when Avi was acting up my husband sweetly looked at me and declared that those were our genes acting up in her (well, that’s my paraphrase). We passed on our least favorable DNA: we fall short of perfection (and typically pretty far from it). I am obviously not a believer in the inherent goodness of mankind. Truly, no biologist, or physiologist who has ever had a two-year old can actually believe that load of crap, can they? All to say, the Bible says that all have sinned, or stated in a way that makes more since- we all are selfish, self-serving and self-focused at our core. Even psychology testifies to this, with the id and the ego and all that jazz. Oh yes, of course we can try to be good and can be successful. But that just isn’t going to cut it.
And my daughter makes this truth self-evident. You want to know what she did on my birthday? Yes, my happy birthday!? She threw about fifteen temper-tantrums in the middle of quiet bookstore, and then ran across the store into the joining Starbucks! Some lady came out asking people throughout Barnes and Noble if the kid belonged to them! That was the second time that hour she ran off into oblivion. One time they had to close down part of a store to look for her. Then she was terrorizing Josiah, throwing the merchandise, and somehow I was supposed to carry her, my son, and all our stuff out of the store into the rain, leaving my unpaid for items and coffee behind? Really, I am not giving this story justice by providing you with details. I’ll spare you but do know, it was MISERABLE! I wanted to spank her into the next county yet instead I stood there, tantrum after another wishing my child was better-behaved, that people would look on me with grace rather than the contempt they were showing, while desperately wishing I had five more hands and a plug to shove in her mouth. This is not an unusual situation I have found myself in either. Don’t misunderstand me, Avi is a wonderful darling. She is a mysterious, exciting and a bubble of joy. But she is also Bad. Very very bad. Yes, her behavior can be bad, but there is something within her that is off too. The same something in all of us that is off which makes us so in need of God, so in need of love and grace amidst consequences and discipline we call life. So, by the grace of God parents everywhere have kindly been given the Terrible Two’s as a year to train up our kids so they won’t live in those Terrible Two’s their whole life long. Or at least to remind us that we sure need some help as parents before we go insane. It happens, you know.
I steam like a pressure cooker that has been sitting on the boiling flame of household affairs. Sometimes I feel like I am about to burst, and the facade of the gentle mother I pretend to be is quickly melting off thanks to my semi-sweet children (semi-sweet like chocolate chips). Hence I’ve started hitting the books. Yep, I’m asking for advice, watching others intently, discussing ideas and gleaning from the knowledge of those more experienced or more educated on the subject: PARENTING. I am convinced the Terrible Two’s were created by God to remind us that producing offspring means more than shoveling food down the pipe while occasionally wiping dirty noses and dirty bums (although that is important too). They are a reminder that we need a lot of help, and that our responsibility is greater than just what is on the outside.
Believing these two truths are, from my inexperienced and unprofessional opinion, the first place to start: that my children actually do need parenting due to their selfish human nature coupled with the fact that my spouse and I are the ones called to parent them (after all, I birthed them which was quite the experience, let me tell ya). If I have a beginning point to recognize what the heck is happening everyday I can move on from there. Yep, there is a kid and I am, what, supposed to parent? I know that might be overly simplistic for some, yet this simplicity really does drive me deeper because it acknowledges the responsibility I have.
Parenting is like being given an empty computer hard drive which already has a virus (if that’s possible) that we are responsible for programing. Unfortunately, it doesn’t even matter if we are good with computers or not! We get to program a operating system anyway, a worldview complete with a culture, value-system, and basic survival skills in order for it to function (and hopefully go beyond just functioning in our world to being successful). Which brings me to my questions of today which made me start on this subject in the first place: What defines successful parenting? What defines a successful child? What are my parenting goals? So maybe, if I get around to it, I’ll continue hashing out parenting with these wonderings in mind. Parenting: Step Two.