Monday, October 29, 2007

A Battle of Wills

I want to talk about my son. And about me. And about our wills! No, no, not Last Will & Testament (although some days we get close to talking about that!), but about our determination--you know, our willfulness!

I have just finished a book! That exclamation point is to emphasize the difficulty I have had in finding time to read these past six months (plus), but while the kids are splashing in the tub, I sit beside them and read. If I ever get to bed before midnight, I read. I want to celebrate my reading today, not just Logan's! (grins)

So, see it along the right sidebar? THREE books completed in 2007, and still two months to go!

The book I satisfyingly closed lastnight is "You Can't Make Me", (But I Can Be Persuaded), Strategies for Bringing Out the Best in Your Strong-Willed Child, by Cynthia Ulrich Tobias.

I'm struggling with that term, "strong-willed child," because I think I've said it aloud too many times already, and I'm sure Logan has heard me. I do not want to make him into something or someone by my saying so, and I know I have not been as cautious, here, as I ought. What is spoken aloud about our children affects how they see themselves, amen? So, I should only be using the more positive expressions about his personality like intelligent, creative, determined, independent, enjoyable, capable...as opposed to stubborn, tenacious, difficult, bossy, argumentative, boastful, precoscious, and "strong-willed". But, for the written record, and just between you & me, it is the expression "strong-willed" that now resonates most with others who share this kind of child-rearing with me, mostly due to Dr. James Dobson's articles, reports and books of that title. I find his descriptions and broadcasts on this topic disturbing and discouraging, approaching parenting a "strong-willed child" from a negative framework from the get-go; anticipating that it will be difficult, tough, nearly impossible! As an eternal optimist, I certailny prefer Tobias' approach.

To begin, I am among the most fearless & confident people I know. I am, by definition, "strong-willed". So, it seems appropriate that a boy as able & curious as my son should be delivered into our family. This is a great challenge for me; one that lands me flat on my tush more times than I care to confess. He undoes me like nothing else in my life, therefore, frustrating me, because raising Logan is a task I barely think I can rise to on many days. There have been few challenges I have taken on in life that I wasn't able to eventually overcome, until parenting! But, this book puts such a beautiful perspective on what oftentimes feels overwhelming. Tobias calls the parenthood of Logan a compliment. A compliment from our Creator God! Logan requires a mother and a father who can keep up with his pace in life. He is quick, sharp, ready all the time. He loves adventure, story-telling, and exploration. He never stops talking! I cannot always attend to his insatiable creative appetite, as I have to keep switching gears from realizing the kitchen that was moments ago the galley of a submarine is, NO!, now the deck of the Titanic, and it is my job to watch out for icebergs, until we are not looking for icebergs anymore, but now racing each other in the Indy 500 (or has it become the space shuttle? Are we headed for a black hole?)!

I have been flustered with the constant movement, weary from the intensity of his thoughts, (spoken aloud and loudly), and downright impatient with his demands for attention. BUT, in this book I found my energy for my son, again, as I empathized with my own parents, who were challenged wtih raising me! What did I want as a child? To be acknowleged for my contributions, my ideas, my creations. Logan wants the same. What did I expect from my parents? To be available, attentive, encouraging, supportive. Logan wants the same. Where did they fall short with me? With impatience, mostly, and criticism. Oh, and maybe, in expecting too much from me for my age.

Logan requires my patience. I must become a more patient human being, anyway, and Logan is sharpening me in this way. My son needs a partner in his adventures, and I need to bend at the knee more often to come alongside, and leave the adult tasks for later. He wants me to create massive train engineering projects with him (and I do), he wants me to read and read and read to him (and I do), he wants to create from clay (and we do)...it's just that these, and the umpteen other "wants" take a lot out of this momma, leaving little for myself. So, I need to buck up and find ways to incorporate his activities more into my own, instead of yeling at him to give me some space.*

Today I found myself doing just that...the dishwasher and washing machine simply have to stop being the concrete items that I think they are; I need to rediscover my childhood mind, and turn them into a time machine and a rocket into space! Today, when I needed to get dressed, we played hide and seek, giving me 20 seconds for the pants, [find the children], 20 seconds for the top, [find the children], 20 seconds to brush my hair, [find the children], etc. It was FUN, not a hassle.

Oh, Lord, help me have this attitude more often. Help me see myself in Logan, and recognize what I needed when I was going-on-five. Help me give him what he needs to develop the character and personality that You want to grow in him. Give me patience--NOW! Oh, and thank you in advance.

*FUN TANGEANT!! This is one of my all-time favorite short films. Please, pay attention to the Brazilian lion. Like him, I need space!


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