Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Humble Pie

I know that my boy Gannon will get more blog time than the others because God sent him just to teach me so many more things than my other boys! He teaches me patience and he teaches me how to outthink a three year old. He teaches me how to work with people who are hard to work with! He teaches me laughter and he teaches me joy and he occasionally serves me up a portion of humble pie! And believe me, God intends to serve me up a heaping portion because He knows I can be pridefully ugly. I mean, I have six boys. And five of the six are easy going boys who ( as young boys) cower in the face of the unknown. Take them to Sunday School or someone's home they've never been to and they will hide behind my legs and perhaps not utter ONE word the entire time they are there. Even for MONTHS or YEARS of going to the SAME class...they will barely make a peep. And at times this has been a burden as I want them to enjoy themselves and drink in life to the full! I want their teaches and classmates to know them and see how sweet they are. And it causes horrible cases of separation anxiety for them. And I hate that. But, you know what? I have always enjoyed the side of this that keeps my boys obedient and compliant when they are away from us. I have never had to worry that they are disobedient or making a bad name for themselves...or us! :)

But then came Gannon. :)

He is not like his brothers. At all. And what makes him precious and adorable and lively makes him hard to manage and a pain in the neck. He loves life. No worrying that this boy is not loving his life to the full. He LOVES people and he knows NO stranger. He speaks to store clerks and teachers and children of all sizes. I never know what he might say! A nurse asked him the other day how old he was and after he held up four fingers and said, "I am three" he then asked her how old she was! We burst out laughing but truly, that makes sense doesn't it? If people always ask you how old you are...then surely you should ask the same, right? He perks up and talks to anyone. And I kind of love it. None of my other boys would do this...even the teenagers will not speak unless someone speaks to them and even then it is hard to get them to answer clearly and with eye contact. And Gannon is stinkin cute too. At least I think so. He is a blondie with the sweetest little lips you have ever seen. I am telling you, if he weren't so rotten I'd eat him with a spoon....well, if I weren't spanking him with it first! :)

SO, what brings this up again? Cause this ain't the first time I have blogged about little Gannon. Well, it was prompted by the first EVER phone call I have received about one of my sons' behavior in a class! GASP! Our boys go to about a half a dozen FamilyLife staff meetings a year. While we are in the meeting, the boys are in classes. Well, it has been since October that Gannon was in class and for some reason the coordinator was just now getting to calling me because the first meeting of this year is tomorrow. The teacher of his class (who BTW is a young , childless woman) said he would not obey. He isn't mean. He just doesn't want to do what he doesn't want to do. And if you have never had a spirited child you are saying to yourself right now, "Well, duh, what child wants to do everything he's told? Spank him more!" Well, my friend...let me serve you a piece of my humble pie...not all kids are the same! Believe this momma of six. Five came out pretty much the same and one came out with spots! :) And believe me, he gets him some spankin'! In fact, almost every battle with Gannon comes to blows with a spanking. He just doesn't back down any other way. But, the Lord has settled in my spirit that dealing with him all the time with the rod is NOT the way to his heart. God made him different. And this momma is determined to work within Gannon's bent. "Train up a child in the way he should go..." is more accurately translated...."Train up a child according to his natural bent." See, we want to bend them our way. But twigs don't bend much before they snap. Some twigs give easily and their natural bent is towards us...but other twigs are bent in their own special direction. And while some days I'd like to give that little twig a good snap...I know this has no gain in his life or mine. SO I work with him. I try to foresee battles and issues of control and I try to head them off at the pass. I try to allow him lots of lead room to do things himself and make decisions where I can. He doesn't want to eat? Don't eat! He wants to wear long pants and a long sleeved shirt when it is 80 degrees...go for it! He wants to wipe his own bottom, put on his own shoes (on the wrong feet), open his own wrapper, buckle his own car seat....GO BOY GO! But, of course he has to mind. And he has to control his screaming temper or he is going to feel some pain. And most every day involves some pain for this kid. But apparently it is worth it to him to have a say in his life.

Here is the thing though...when I hand him off to well-meaning teachers and sitters, they don't know all this. They need him to do as he is told. If all the kids are sitting on carpet squares with their hands folded nicely...he should too. If it is snack time and all the other kids are seated nicely around the table...he should too. And if a child takes his toy he should share. And he should speak softly. And he should lie on his mat at naptime. But for Gannon....he is NO respecter of authority. Again, gasp. He no more respects them as authority than he does his daddy and me. Seriously. He does what we tell him to do because of one of two reasons: 1) He wants to do what we have asked or 2) He fears the consequences if he doesn't. But, it is hard to get this spirited child to do what he doesn't want to do with someone who holds no consequence with him. UGH! This means I have to step in and wield consequences which is difficult when I am not there. And this means I have to ask some immature, inexperienced (typically) person to understand my child in a way that is different than the other 10 in the class. If he will sit in a chair quietly but not on the floor...then PLEASE let the boy sit in a chair. He just wants a choice. Who cares if he is the only one doing it or if some of the others want to sit in a chair also? If he can have a choice...please offer him one. I get it. There is not always a choice. All I am asking is see his heart...his natural bent and give him room to be him. That's a tall order. I get it. After all, he is my boy. I love him unlike anyone else besides his daddy. And that love spurs me to be patient and work with him.

Here is the bottom line. Being Gannon's mommy has taught me to stop judging other parents about how they handle their children. I have NO idea what is happening in their home and in their hearts. What appears to be a poorly disciplined child may actually be a leader in the making. I refuse to be ashamed of him or discipline him sternly so that others can "see" what a good parent I am. I wring my hands over this child every day. He is a HAND FULL! But oh how I love him! Can't wait to see who he is going to be! ~M.


Stacy Brown said...

We love that Gannon too! We love that he is a handfull and in YOUR hands....haha! Strongwilled children can NOT always be disciplined the same....AMEN! When you are the momma you can see their heart. Praying that all goes well at the FL meeting for you and sweet little Gannon!

The McElhenys said...

I love this post!!!! It is the story of my life in some ways. For some reason God saw fit to bless me with a spirited one for my firstborn. I would call him spirited, but not necessarily strongwilled. Then we come to #2. He is not so spirited, but is SO strongwilled! And boy have I ever felt judged, been judged outright... it sure does put you in your place before God. I have yet to determine the character of #3, but I have some crazy probably misplaced hopes that maybe possibly she is the one who will make me feel like a good mom. Ha! I can almost hear God laughing now!

Dena said...

So, good! My first two kids were compliant, and my little third born is giving me a run for my money. This post shows so much wisdom. Hang onto it through the years. It is true that leaders lead even when they are three years old. We don't want to discipline the leader out of them. We want to make them humble servants willing to lead others while still appropriately under the authorities in their own lives! I also love that this little guy brings out something in his older brother that I think only he could do.

The McElhenys said...

do you know that over a week later my mind is still boggled at the idea of 5 boys in a row who all are content to "fly under the radar" in a classroom setting?? That idea is just baffling to me!! They are good boys and Gannon is too in his own special way!!