The pages were everywhere. He was supposed to be napping. I had heard some noise coming from behind the closed door and hoped that if I didn’t breathe too loud he would stop what he was doing and just fall asleep. Two days of hard playing and pool splashing is supposed to wear out a 3 year old wild child, right?
The Bug was sleeping, I had just laid down The Peanut and was taking a deep inhale of a “just me,” moment when I heard the door open. He found me fast as he always does telling me he was done with nap time since he took a “widdle nap.” I calmly, mother of the year-ly, walked him back to his room and that’s when I saw it. Amidst the toys that had been torn out of the closet from two nap times previous were pages upon pages of his Disney Bedtime Story book.
I just burst into tears.
I asked him to pick up all the pages. I told him the book was a special book. He had received it from good friends as a baby and to me it was special. It was one of those books that I would have held on to for a very long time...except now it was ripped apart with disney characters and their stories strewn across the bedroom floor.
Surprisingly, he did not pick the pages up well (enter sarcasm). At first he handed them to me and then the throwing of pages took over his little body. It doesn’t have to be a ball; anything is something to be thrown. Then I felt it again, the awful feeling flooding my insides and I said it out loud.
“I am so angry right now.”
I picked him up and placed him on his bed that, as I was standing there, I realized needed to be cleaned on account of the musty smell that often comes from a leaky pull up. So, I grab the top sheet to throw in the wash because I figured at least one blanket can be clean for bed time. I told him to lay down and go to sleep and not leave his room until I come and get him. I then, in my anger, grabbed every book that was visible in his room and took them with me. I informed him that he can not have books for a while and I would have to throw the special one away.
Melt down. And, exactly what I wanted. He had hurt my heart and I wanted him to be sad and sorry for what he had done.
Who is the three year old?
Is this really the right way to parent?
Questions were pounding through my head as I was simply acting in my anger.
What is the right thing to do here? What do those books say again? Did I miss this chapter? The one that tells you how to keep your cool when you are sleep deprived and at your limit and INTERRUPTED in the one “just me” moment you may have in the day?
He sneaked out of his room again...after I told him not to and since I had had a few minutes to take some deep breaths I calmly walked him back in and placed him back on his bed, breathing in that musty smell again. Time to strip the whole bed.
I headed to my computer and began to write for the first time in a long time. I’m not concerned with grammar today, or verb tense, or with flowing, poetic words. Today I am concerned with this ugly monster that sometimes wells up inside of me. Today I am concerned about how to raise this wild one. I want him to be wild and brave and just like a super hero but I want him to be respectful and kind. I want him to run free with swords fighting the imaginary bad guys he finds in the backyard but I also want him to be gentle and considerate of others feelings.
I know he’s three and that is a lot to ask. I know that, “Mama said there will be days like this...” but what I don’t know is how get my own feelings under control. I have given myself a million excuses...hormones, sleep deprivation, etc. but at the end of the day I am the adult. I am the mom. I need to get a handle.
And, then I remember...
It’s something that we don’t deserve. I write about it in almost every post. I’m still learning it. I had to name my 3rd baby with it...another reminder.
So, I take more deep breaths and cry at the keyboard a little longer. I resolve to apologize for my angry actions, forgive the wild thing, and explain once again to my Little Man that we need to treat our things with love and respect. There will still be a consequence for his actions. He won’t get to touch any books for a few days and then we will try again. And, he will lose cartoons: A travesty in his sweet world.
He sneaks out one more time as I formulate my plan. This time with real calm and real peace I pick him up and he wraps his thick boy legs around me. I place him, gently this time, on his bed...hearing my mama in my head...reminding me to love him because I love well. He asks me if nap time is over. I tell him no. I will come back and get him when it is. He asks if it can be quiet time...which means no sleeping, just quiet playing. I tell him yes but he must stay in his room. In his sweet quiet voice he says, “Otay, tanks mommy.” I tell him I will back in a bit and we will have a little talk.
Still questioning, still wondering what the parent book authors might think, what my array of family and friends might think of my parenting in the last thirty minutes, I sit down at the keyboard again. Why? Because it was this wild child that led me to it in the first place. It was his unpredictable behavior as an infant that made me desperate for an outlet, so I began to write.
His unpredictable behavior has brought me right back. His testing me is teaching me again in a new season in new ways. More sifting and threshing so this character is built.
I whisper, “I’m sorry for my temper, Lord. Help me.”
I make his bump jar (thank you, Jennifer!) and I get ready for the next round.
I will look for ways to build up and encourage with any opportunity. We are going to need to find some things to high five about after a full morning of swimming and and full nap time with no nap. Dinner time will be interesting and there will likely be tears. We will put him to bed early. We will read his Bible to him too...he just won’t be able to hold the book...and I will tell him so, so that he remembers why. I will take the time to remind him about forgiveness and what it means to have a fresh start, a clean slate.
We will all go to bed under the covers of grace...those covers that don’t smell musty...but instead offer us the sweetness of new mercies in the morning.