On Friday, I read through Crystal’s article on Kindness vs. Obedience. I thought it was a good article and filed it away in my “Things to remember” memory part of life.
Cue this last Sabbath afternoon.
The girls and I went to the park while Daddy was otherwise occupied. Sweetness rode her bike and I pushed Light in her stroller. The park was a blast as always. Lots and lots of lots of time on the swings and the slide. Light is really loving the park nowadays and quite the daredevil for being one year old. 😉
Before meltdown city could start to occur, we said good-bye to the park and started off. At least, I tried to do that. Sweetness had gotten on her tricycle and was taking off while I was still trying to round up Light and convince her that it was time to jet.
She looked back at me.
Mild panic because she’s getting to the end of the block and Lightness and I are right by the road so I can’t abandon her to chase down the 2 year-old.
Super-stern voice. “Sweetness, stop now!”
She got to the shade and stopped. My heart skipped a few beats and I ran and caught up with her.
“Honey, when Mommy says stop, you need to stop now.”
We got to the corner and checked to see if there were any cars coming. No cars, so we crossed the road. I got slightly ahead of Sweetness as she stopped to take in the sight of a running squirrel.
“Mommy, stop! Stop and wait for me!”
“Okay honey, I will. I’ll stop.” And I kept on going until I hit the shade, which was just a few feet away. I looked back to see Sweetness frantically pedaling to catch up with me and yelling, “Mommy, stop and wait!”
Then it hit me. My daughter wasn’t being bad earlier. She was just doing to me what I had done to her. On our walks, I had constantly told her I’d stop and then keep going if she hadn’t caught up to me fairly quickly.
How could I expect her to be obedient and respectful when I didn’t comply with her urgent requests? She didn’t realize the danger she could be in and why I wanted her to stop. I didn’t realize how desperate she was that I wait and be a companion to her on her rides.
Man, I really need to work on this. I need to respect her so that she will respect me. How can I do any less, when she really will do what I do, not what I say?
One of the most common ideas I am encountering in Adventist parenting today is that we need to parent sin out of our kids. Maybe it’s not phrased that exact way, but that is the essence of the ideas I hear. Things like “I help my child to connect with God so that they can war successfully against their flesh and follow God.” Or “If I can show them how to live a Christian life now by teaching them at all possible moments about the good Christian life, they’ll always be a part of God’s kingdom.”
Unfortunately, a lot it boils down to a need to have a child’s immediate outward behavior only look happy and ‘Christian’. One of the side effects of this is the idea that having a meltdown is sinful. It assigns a lot of negative intent to a wee one.
I think of Jesus in the wilderness, having not eaten for so many days. He was hungry. Is being hungry a sin? No. But hunger may be a result of sin. Or God may have created us with hunger pangs that needed to be assuaged. I just don’t know how He designed Adam and Eve.
In the same way, when a baby/toddler isn’t able to communicate their needs, they have a meltdown. Is a meltdown a sin? No. Is having a meltdown a result of sin? I don’t know. I don’t know if toddler behavior is how God created humans to be when they are little or if it is a result of the Fall.
One of the beauties of the briefness of Scripture is that we don’t get a lot of guidance as to HOW Mary and Joseph raised Jesus. Just that the Child grew and increased in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and man (Luke 2:52). And when someone grows in an area, it implies that they didn’t come that way in the first place. 😉
We are also called to put away childish things when we are grown. So neurotypical adults having a meltdown? No. That’s not how God designed us. He designed us so that when we are grown up in Him, we have the fruits of the Spirit.
Just as a side note, fruits bloom at the right time, in their season. All fruit trees are made with the capacity to bear fruit, but they need to have the proper nourishment to grow up and bear fruit. Even so for us. We can all have the fruits of the Spirit, but it’s only as we’re attached to the One Who gives life, that we can bear these fruits.
In other words, while my children are the fruit of a womb, not even necessarily MY womb, I cannot make them sprout the fruits of the Holy Spirit.
So, did Jesus ever have meltdowns as a baby or toddler?