Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The World Through A Two-Year-Old's Eyes

I have been reading about being a more sympathetic mom. This has been more convicting than I care to admit.

I serve a God who "is not unable to sympathize with our weakness but has been tempted in every way just as we are" (Heb 4:15). A God who doesn't look down His nose at us in judgment and roll His eyes at our weakness, but who One who put on the cloak of our frail humanity and came and walked in our shoes for 33 years.

So today, as I was throwing up my hands in frustration at my two-year-old and wondering why everything with him, and I mean e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g has to be a battle, I began to consider what life must look like from his point of view.

What must it be like when you are two and everything in the world is new and exciting and just waiting to be discovered and explored and conquered? To have such a wild variety of things before you to touch and smell and taste and write on the wall with?

When you're two (and in possession of a serious type A personality), you have an insane amount of energy coursing through your veins as you run through the world, heady with the desire to get control and have dominion over all of it.

Except you can't be in control because the big people are in control. And they want you to sit still and be quiet because they don't have any energy left to chase you around.

And in Joshua's case, what's it like to have a boisterous 6 foot 7 inch personality crammed inside a tiny little body just bursting to get out? To have so much to say and almost no one who understands it?

I looked at him tonight and remembered that he really is very cute and endearing, not just a stinker who is trying to make my life as difficult as possible. I took some extra time to enjoy him, to make him feel that he is understood.

Practicing sympathetic thinking towards him however, certainly doesn't make me any more permissive. Especially when my two-year-old still has yet to learn that he actually has limitations.

The other day at the pool, he and his big brother were laughing as they jumped into the pool with little inner tubes around their waists. Some kids his age might be worried when their faces momentarily go under water, but not Joshua.

In fact, when Caleb had had enough of his inner tube, he climbed out, tossed it to the side and jumped in with a big splash (he could touch the bottom here, but it was well over Joshua's head). Josh watched with delight and then seemed to decide Well, if it's good enough for Caleb, it's good enough for me!

He too stepped out of his inner tube and tossed it away recklessly. With a wild yell and without so much as a glance towards me, he leaped into the pool and sunk straight to the bottom.

I pulled him up, expecting him to sputter and cough and need reassuring, but he emerged smiling and ready to go again.

At this point, I'm thinking about all the houses we go to that have backyard pools, including a babysitter's, and I decide to let him jump again. As I watch him sink like a rock, I think that maybe it would be good for him if I gave him a few extra seconds on the bottom before I pulled him out.

And I'm talking just a few extra seconds. We were, after all, right under the lifeguard's chair and if I had let it get to the point where she had to jump in and save him while I was just watching him drown with a "I hope you're learning your lesson" look on my face well, there's goes my Mother-of-the-Year award for sure.

A few extra seconds, though, really did nothing to help him gain healthy respect for water's power over him.

Later, as he played in the shallow water, he decided things looked a little better in the deep end. He began tiptoeing towards it, the water slowly rising until just his nose and a few inches of his face were showing. Rather than being concerned, though, he kept determinedly pushing towards his destination while barking orders at me to hurry up and provide assistance.

So I'm doing my best to get both him and me through the next few years without too many scrapes and bruises, and I'm learning a little about sympathy and understanding along the way.

Perhaps my most convicting moment came about a week ago during a hectic trip to the grocery store.

Joshua truly does not seem to realize that he is younger than his siblings and therefore not entitled to all of the same privileges they enjoy. He is incensed when we treat him like... well, like a two-year-old. One of our biggest struggles comes when he has to suffer the indignity of being strapped into the grocery cart while everybody else gets to walk.

On this particular day he protested so fiercely (and all of my resolve had been worn down already that day) that I agreed to let him walk. Big mistake.

It was right before dinnertime, so the grocery store was swarming with people. My two-year-old was on a mission to lose me as fast as possible while investigating everything in the store. Add to that a five year old who was peppering me with questions: "Who was the tenth President of the United States? Well, you just have to tell me his last name. Do you know his first name? Okay, just tell me what he looked like? Why don't you know? Who says you have to be sixteen to drive? Why did they pick sixteen instead of a different number? Mom, are you listening to me? Then tell me what I just said."

I began to feel like I was held together by just a few tiny threads and Caleb was slowly unwinding one thread with his incessant questions, and Joshua was swiftly unraveling the other one as he ran away from me laughing.

I stopped the cart and told Joshua to stay RIGHT HERE as I walked a few feet away to look at a particular section. A store employee was right in front of what I wanted to look at, but I tried to look around him as Joshua kept running away from the cart to wrap himself around my legs.

I kept trying to get Joshua to stay in the right spot - "Over there, go over by the cart" - all the while distracted with what I was trying to look for. Finally irritation won out as I looked at him with clenched teeth and said a little too loudly: "Move over there right now!"

To my horror, the store employee thought I was talking to him and immediately jumped out of my way with wide eyes, gasping "I'm sorry, Ma'am."

"Oh, no, I'm sorry. I wasn't talking to you," I said sheepishly.

Yeah, I only talk in a harsh and mean tone of voice to my beloved offspring. I wouldn't talk to anyone else that way.

There's some food for thought.


Julie B said...

I just have to LOL! I feel your...err, uh, exasperation! Sounds like you have a good grasp on his view of the world though! I've had to learn to "find the yes" in all of A's objectives. The whole world is full of "no" for someone his size and age, from bedtimes to desserts, to TV to the size of furniture, it's no wonder he doesn't want to hear it from me either. We raise them to be a "big boy" and do things independently, then get frustrated when they demand the same "rights" of all the other big people. I've had to stop and ask myself, "why not?" when he makes a request. Do I just not "feel like it," or is there a legitimate reason?

These determined little masterminds are the same ones that are determined to change the world when they grow up. Help him learn to use his powers for good! ;)

Love your blog!!

JJ said...

I laughed out loud! Thank you! Maggie has also been asserting her ... personality... in the last few days and I feel like screaming. It's always a good reminder than God expects more of us if we're truly trying to be like Him...