There are days when your children just get you all riled up. Sometimes this is good and sometimes it is bad.
Yesterday, Gabe had a special field trip to the Atlanta airport to view his art that was chosen for an exhibit. Art and creativity are Gabe’s things– he’s just stinkin good at it. My mom gave him an art kit a couple Christmas’s ago that still gets brought out almost daily for whatever he’s working on. Whether it’s drawing, creating, coloring, or all of the above, he’s good at it! So for his art to be picked like this was HUGE. He is one proud little man.
Chad took the day and went with him as a chaperone. For a man who does his own thing all day, this was big– and hour + bus ride each way, during which he had to turn off his cell phone, 3 people to a seat- tons of kids goings crazy all around, the chaos of the airport, and not so organized trip, lunch in the concourse, etc… This isn’t really Chad’s style, but he wanted to spend the day with Gabe, so it was worth it.
Before I go on, I want to be honest and point out that Gabe is in the midst of some struggles right now, in general– trying to figure out who he is, what we expect of him, what he’s responsible for, etc… He has multiple houses, multiple parents, and a schedule- and he’s smart enough to play all this out for his own good! He wants to do as little as possible, so we’re constantly talking about initiative– he wants to be babied, so we’re constantly talking about responsibility– he wants to manipulate the adults who loves him and care for him, as well as his friends and peers at school, in order to get his way, so we’re constantly talking about being self-less and putting others first– he wants to throw fits and lose control, so we’re constantly talking about self-control and how to handle anger. This all sounds good and well and clean-cut as a type it, and I wish I could tell you that we always handle this well and use scripture and have wonderful conversations, but sometimes that just isn’t that case– we/I lose our cool, and there goes the teachable moment!
Anyway, one big thing is Gabe’s social skills– they’re kind of awkward. And to some degree he’s just a goofy little boy (like beyond just the typical 8 year old goofiness). This is who God has made him to be- there is no arguing that. His Mom and his Dad are both very good in social situations, make friends easily, can carry on conversations and make others comfortable, etc… but with Gabe, not so much. Everyone is his friend to him- but not everyone wants to be his friend- which hurts his little heart. Which leads to tears. Which leads to more people not wanting to be his friend. The stuff he likes to do and talk about isn’t necessarily “cool” or mainstream– which is a blessing and a curse all at the same time. We don’t want Gabe to conform to everyone around him, but we do want him to be a well-liked, sought after human being, with upstanding character and integrity that always points back to the Jesus who lives in his heart. (I want this for myself too! AND I don’t always do that well– so it’s not that Gabe has to be perfect- he’s just struggling with it a bit more then the rest of us). HARD!
So in the midst of all this, there are many many conversations and prayers about how to parent through this. We’re asking questions of older and wiser people. I’m asking for accountability, and honestly, just begging God to give me a pure and clean heart and intentions in my moments, conversations, and love for Gabe. But it’s not always easy or feel-good moments. Sometimes it’s really hard and frustrating, and I’m just left exasperated, shrugging my shoulders, scratching my head, and saying “huh”??
Which all leads me back to yesterday….
Chad got home from the field trip- dropped Gabe at home with me and Max, and headed out to work for a bit. From 2pm-3pm, Gabe was such a pill- not sharing, deliberately making Max squeal, disobedient- that I sent him to his room earlier than normal for his afternoon reading time. I laid Max down for a nap (that he didn’t take) and proceeded and handle an issue with our insurance that they completely handled and were sorry that they messed up, yadda yadda, but it still took over 30 minutes. I then got several things done for work, and then decided to get both boys and take them to the park. A little fresh air would be good for all of us.
Gabe ran around for the full hour, playing HARD, dripping sweat, and enjoying the other kids there– win! By the time we got home, I was certain that everyone’s hearts were in a good place and I was ready for dinner and Chad to get home, and some family time. Wellllllll……. Chad was home for about 5 seconds when Gabe knocked his dinner all over the floor because he wasn’t obeying. About 2 minutes after that he started crying because his “stomach hurt”– his line (lie) that he uses every time he doesn’t want to eat something– but offer something else and magically the stomach ache is gone. As the meal planner, grocery buyer, and food preparer, this drives me so nuts that I honestly can’t see straight when he begins to pull this stunt. And after the afternoon we’d had, I just sent him to his room (NOT nicely) and told him to dry it up.
(At this point, I am all riled up- and it’s not the good kind.)
Once he was upstairs I asked Chad about the fieldtrip– what kind of day had Gabe had there? Chad informed me that it had been a long day and pretty frustrating. Boo!
(At this point, I’m scratching my head…)
The rest of us finished eating, and we got the kitchen cleaned and then Gabe started yelling for his Dad. When Chad went up there, Gabe was “starving” and could he please come eat? Well the boy was most certainly hungry– I can’t imagine the calories he burned on the playground- so he was given explicit instructions to clean his plate in a step by step process, starting with the thing “giving him a stomach ache”. He gobbled every bite up in about .05 seconds and came into the living room happy as a clam.
For the next 30 minutes, Chad and I sat on the couch and talked, the boys played. Gabe again starts bossing Max and making him squeal. He also interrupts me and Chad 9437685 times while we’re trying to talk. At this point, I’m irritated- feeling like it was a waste of a day and energy, for both me and Chad. I was feeling sorry for us, that we had “gone out of our way” for Gabe to have a good/ big day and it was a bust. I’m saying “huh” as assess the situation. I’m feeling like we lost ground today- instead of gaining it as we had hoped.
At bedtime, I did Max’s bedtime routine and Chad did Gabe’s… and Chad came out with little tear in his eye…
Gabe told him that it was a great day and that he was so glad the Chad came with him. He then bowed his head and prayed, thanking God for the day and his Daddy– his “very best big buddy”.
And there you go- in a nutshell- your kids can drive you from one extreme to the other in a blink of an eye- they have the power to melt your heart and make it pound with anger or fear- and they can bring tears, and humility, and love with one small sentence.
I know God’s using us to shape them, but I think He’s using them to shape us even more!