Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Wisdom in the Moment

We had a good day today, overall. Good is a relative term, meaning there were no injuries, only one spanking, two time-outs, and both boys napped well and simultaneously. That is bordering on miraculous, really. So you know, the little issues in between are really not a big deal. It was a good day.

Tucker had speech therapy this morning, and he wasn't in the mood to cooperate, as he sometimes isn't, since he's, you know... TWO. But thankfully, Miss Nicole is very familiar with the temperaments of his age, and she is ever patient to do things his way. She is a gem. I could sing her praises all day long.

We were invited to a friend's birthday lunch (a darling, beautiful, single friend, in case any of you handsome, single, God-honoring male readers were wondering), and we sure had the best of intentions of going to celebrate... but we just couldn't make it out the door today. Despite my best plans, today was a total stay-at-home day. And I really, truly don't have many of those. (It makes you wonder why I call myself a stay-at-home mom, since we're really rarely here.)

The boys both had a rough morning, and I knew that a birthday lunch in a restaurant without a playground was a recipe for disaster. So we stayed home.

But when I called my sweet friend to tell her we couldn't attend, Tucker chose that very moment to become ridiculously possessive of my time and attention, and he displayed this in a full-blown meltdown.

I was holding Tyler and talking on my cell phone, so with all due respect to Tuck, he wasn't getting much of me. And he was none too pleased about it. He was pulling on my hands and my clothes, whining, stomping feet, and crying, crying, crying. I finished leaving my voicemail, which I really don't remember very much of and can only hope it was coherent, and I prepared to tend to this little crying mess at my feet.

I put Tyler in the pack 'n play with some toys, since I have a personal rule: I don't hold one child while I am disciplining another. When one child needs such careful, strong attention, I don't want him to see his brother receiving a very different kind of attention. When Tuck is in timeout, I restrain myself from picking up Tyler in the meantime; I think that could breed jealousy, and there are enough other things that may harvest envy in their lives. I don't want to be the cause, as much as I can avoid it.

There is a lot I can tolerate, but whining and tantruming are not on the list. He is welcome (okay, not welcome... but permitted) to be angry, but he cannot do it in a loud, obnoxious way. Some friends of mine have said that they send their children to their beds, to the corner, or just down the hall when they get that way. So I decided to give it a try and follow suit.

I tried to put him in timeout, but he was reluctant. I have to say, of all the things Tucker struggles with, he is often pretty compliant with timeout. He understands the drill, and he goes right to his spot in the kitchen until time is up. (Yes, he often takes off his shoes and socks, or scoots around on the floor, or attempts some other attention-getting strategy. But he goes.)

Not today. He just kept pulling on me, stomping his feet, and crying, crying, crying.

I used a stronger tone, and I demanded that he sit down in timeout. But then, my friends, I noticed a very important signal: his cry changed, ever so subtly. He was no longer obstinate and angry... he was just sad. But he knelt down on the floor, in total submission.

You know what I realized? He wasn't trying to be bad or angry or two. He just wanted me. He just wanted me to get on his level and be with him for a minute. He was simply sad that I had asked him to be in timeout, removed from me, when I was all he wanted. And yet he was willing to sit down on the floor.

There will undoubtedly come a time when I will need to treat whining in a different way, but today was not the day.

I have often asked the Lord for wisdom in each moment with my children, and today He gave it to me in a very real way. This was not an action to discipline; this was a little boy who wanted his mom. I sat down on the floor and hugged him. He cried and cried. Not an angry cry, just a sad cry. I don't know why he was so sad, but my goodness, he was.

Within a few minutes, he was finished with the tears, he was ready to play. He began his repetition of bringing me plastic food on a plate, so I can pretend to gobble it down like a famished woman who has never tasted such deliciousness. Our favorite foods in that game are grape soda and a beef patty. So he was just fine after that, and our day fell right into place.

But had I been so insistent on teaching him that this isn't the best way to get my attention, I would have missed the moment with him... I would have missed his heart.

Thank you, Lord, for the wisdom You gave me in that moment. Please show me how to love my children, in the ways they need it most, moment by moment.

1 comment:

Alli Dunham said...

Oh, Tricia. You are so incredibly sensitive to our God's guidance. Thank you so much for sharing those with us...a constant reminder.