Monday, August 18, 2014

Not Yet Trained

For my sister and me...

Potty training isn't simply a skill, it's the first time as parent, you impose a demand on your kiddo across the board and the only way victory is achieved, is when they comply and oblige every time without fail.  It is for many children if not most, the first time they hit the non negotiable wall.  That surrender and discipline is for many, a hard truth that takes a long time to accept.  But maybe I just raise stubborn children.  

I started thinking about the places I struggle with my children, bedtimes, homework, potty training, practicing music, for some, reading, for many, vegetables, getting up, getting dressed, accepting criticism about choices, or suggestions they should be reading.   I had to wonder if my whole parenting technique is the issue, not the issues themselves, as all of them are struggles between what I know they need to do and what they want. 

Yesterday, I felt the pain looking at my almost six year old son not being potty trained.  He starts special kindergarten this year.  Up until now, there's always been the glimmer of hope that we would get there before school.  But school starts next week, and while he will sit and has at least on three occasions, successfully used the facilities, it is not something he seeks.  Perhaps we should push harder, but it is hard to know. My youngest daughter is 3 1/2.  She also isn't potty trained, but she knows what's up and has begun naming her terms.  So far, they include a red cake just like the one she had for her 3rd birthday, and a t-shirt with an owl on it that shines and lights up the sky.   I don't know how she came up with that image, but I'm on the hunt for it. For my own sanity, I've adopted the Catholic church perspective.  I constantly propose, I do not impose.  Here's hoping one day, they embrace the suggestion to go to the bathroom.  

Regardless of the age, children think they want endless time, endless activity, endless leisure, (but they don't really).  Children think they want to stay up forever. They don't. They think they want cotton candy at the fair, but find it sticky and oddly without any taste, as they chew on it hoping for some taste that isn't there.  The more they eat, the more dissatisfied they become with the experience, and yet they ask for more.   Sometimes, the art of parenting is letting them try imposing their will and discovering it's not for them, and other times, we get the job of holding firm no matter what.  They think they don't want to read books or learn a new skill, but the triumph in their eyes when they do, tells me otherwise.

When you're a parent of many, the question is always, which situation is this?  I can let the 15 year old bike to the Sports Authority to shop, but not the 10 year old to the McDonald's.  The three oldest can watch this movie, the others cannot.  She can handle an extra activity.  He can't.  She needs to be put in honors classes and pushed. This other one needs to be held back, given the opportunity to be the age she is and not the age her older sister is.  It's a constant juggling, is this when I push? Is this when I pull?  Is this when I talk?  Is this when I listen?  Is this when I draw a line and hold firm? Is it time to be disciplined or the time to be flexible?  It changes from situation to situation, child to child, moment to moment. For me, all of parenting is learning to surrender, my priorities for theirs, my time for theirs, and to give them my judgment, my time, and my efforts and to do all of it without hesitation and with full joy even when it is a total pain.  (Like potty training, teaching driving, and running extra errands because of the demands of an extra curricular activity).

The only thing that doesn't change is the need to pray through it.   Or pray after it because I didn't pray through it.   And I realize, I'm not yet parent trained, or surrendering and submitting and serving wouldn't still be a constant battle within my head to know what to do and will to do it. God keeps asking me to things He knows would make me healthier and happier and holier, and He's having no more luck with me than I am with my own toddlers.

We are a stubborn and stiff necked people.  But we are also a people of hope, so maybe today will be the day we harden not our hearts and miracles happen.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

If your Dad and I were able to accomplish this task with our children, I know you can do it. I was shocked how strong-willed our children could be about this , but time heals most wounds, and I know you will be successful-eventually. Hugs to you and Jennifer- I am thinking about you both- and OI do not miss this task, Sam I am- I do not miss it al all.

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