Depending on where you are in life, that right there is enough to send any couple either to their knees in tears because they have been waiting for so long, or, more like my husband and me, sent us doing the blank, slow-blink stare at each other.
We had only been married nine months when we found out our first born would be there but nine months later. Whoa. What happened to “We are going to wait four years to start a family and once the universe aligns to our plans, then we will decide when and how and how many of these wonderful humans to bring into this beautiful world at just the right financial, emotional, mental and physical time.”?
Yea, that didn’t happen. She did.
This tiny thing was beautiful and that round head must have received a million kisses. As she grew, that face got more and more kisses and love and hugs, and then something happened…she decided she wasn’t going to obey. What?! Where did my perfect baby of my perfect plan that I changed along the way because our four year one didn’t work out? What happened? You mean I have to PARENT this thing?
I remember the first little “pop” Piper got from her Daddy. (We believe in spanking as ONE of the ways to discipline, if you don’t, just don’t read this part, but it’s not that bad, I promise.) He was changing her diaper and she thought it would be fun to keep rolling side to side. He would give her a verbal instruction, “Piper, no, no.”
“Piper, no.” And her then took her little body and sweetly moved it back to where he could get the diaper under her tiny booty. Roll.
“Piper. *pop on thigh* No.” She was stunned. A little cry. But she didn’t roll. It’s pretty easy, really. He didn’t lose his cool, and she knew her line. Honestly, spanking works sometimes and definitely not for all occasions. Just one of those things in parenting we have to help each other understand.
So, she’s a toddler. Wonderful, sweet, thumb-sucking toddler. Defiance and testing limits starts here. It’s hard and challenging and makes me have to go take a breather out the porch, but it’s parenting. We set limits for their good. We teach them authority for so many reasons. We show them the way and help them stay on the path. We give them love and respect and teach them how to do the same. We offer wisdom and insight. We laugh with them and even cry with them. They can hurt our feelings and yet make us feel like we are the best mommies and daddies in the whole wide world. She, is a toddler.
Can I share a secret with you, sweet parent of a toddler, or 4-8 year old, or even 9-12 year old? They become teenagers.
I think a smile just crossed your face, didn’t it. I know, mine too.
I recently was reading an article written by someone who has children under the age of ten. They were commenting on defiance and how their little ones challenge their authority, and then said something to the affect that they could only imagine what it will be like when they are teens. My heart dropped a little.
I get it. It’s a little scary, and quite frankly, we kind of feel like we just got out of our teens, how on earth can we maneuver one in our house through those years? I have a little insight to this, but not much because I’m only a few years in, but, if I may, I’d like to share some things about these “teen” years that might help those of you with little ones relax a little.
First of all, in your mind, don’t set up those years as something to eye-roll about. This writer already had a preconceived idea of what those years will be like. Already exasperated, already tired, already beaten by some unseen force of the teen psyche. Rather, set up, in your mind, those years will be fun, full of joy, laughter, and yes, difficulty. But, not something to roll your eyes about.
Secondly, they don’t go from 8 to 14. There is a lot of years of growth in there, for you and them. I’d suggest getting some reading material about these ages. I think we think it’s hard because we can’t call the shots anymore. No more, “Honey, get down from there.” We can’t really say to them, “Hey, don’t run in the street.” It’s just not like our small kids where there is black and white lines of do’s and don’ts. Don’t get me wrong, there are, but it’s just not the same. I don’t tell them to go pee-pee or brush their teeth. They don’t have to finish their dinner. I don’t have to tell them not to hit the dog with the stick.
It’s different. There is more give and take. More letting go of them being “little” and watching them make choices for themselves as they grow. They’re changing, we know it’s coming and assume it’s going to be hard.
Can I tell you another secret? It is hard.
But, she’s a teen, a young woman, I like to say. I never call them teens, and especially never call them that to them. I never use the old “She’s just a teenager!” followed with a shrug and an eye roll. Can I encourage you to do the same and start when they are young? It helps you see them as a young woman or man who you are helping walk through these years. And it sets them up for an expectation of growth and a “leading up” to the adult life. Have grace. Give love. Be patient.
She’s a young woman. He’s a young man. Defiance and testing limits is different here. It’s hard and challenging and makes me have to go take a breather out the porch, but it’s parenting. We set limits for their good. We teach them authority for so many reasons. We show them the way and help them stay on the path. We give them love and respect and teach them how to do the same. We offer wisdom and insight. We laugh with them and even cry with them. They can hurt our feelings and yet make us feel like we are the best moms and dads in the whole wide world. She, is a toddler, I mean, young woman, a young man.
You see? It’s not that it’s mysterious and so hard we can’t make it, it’s just a different hard with a different payoff. If you’re the parent of a young one and those teenage years that are looming around the corner freak you out, that’s ok. Just remember, they are young women and men who need us to treat them that way.
They will rise to it and you will be amazed.