I like to get under the skin of my oldest child once in a while, just to shake things up. He has Asperger Syndrome (which is on the Autism Spectrum) and has very black and white ideas of what life should be like. While he was a fabulous older brother to his siblings when they were little, he now thinks younger kids are a totally different species. They are stinky, messy, loud and tend to break his things. We were in a Dr.’s office today and there was the cutest little almost-two-year-old ever. She was active and chatty and just lovely. So, since I like to mess with his mind to keep things lively, I suggested that maybe we should “get” another baby. Good thing we were in a psychiatrist’s office and she called him in right away, so they had something to talk about. I may or may not have gotten in trouble for joking with him like that. After his session, she asked me into the office, as usual. I explained that it was just me trying to be funny (ha ha…anyone?) and that it was not at all possible that we were going to be adding to our family in the next two decades….
Toddlers, I love toddlers…when they are with other people! That stage lasted so very long in my house and it was rife with tiny bodies but huge strong-willed behavior. I like to think we are growing the next generation’s leaders…all within my house. They all like to boss everyone else around and not listen to anyone. It is a big responsibility to see the gift of leadership in several children under our care. By God’s grace they will become (and are blossoming into) leaders that will change their worlds.
What did the toddler stage look like in church? You could ask the people who attend our little church in the
wildwoods field, but they might all be blocking out that particular stage as effectively as I am. All I remember is trying to all sit in a row, hopefully not in the very front (which the kids inevitably picked), and keep them all entertained/quiet/not yelling while the Reverend did his fine work preaching at the front. Often, that neat little row became a war zone and I was dragging one, two or three kids out for a sound whooping (as if I would do that…) talking to/time out. Crayons were scattered EVERYWERE, peeled papers from crayons littered several rows around us, little cars were on and under the seats…it was a little piece of chaos right there for everyone to see. The grace that surrounded us in those years, by the people we were there to serve, was incredible. Truly. They surround us in love still…even after all the crazy years.
One Sunday, the Reverend recorded his sermon. He sat down, in the living room, to critique his own work. I sat down, with a little dread, to watch with him. All I could see was the front row. When he set up the camera, there was no one in the room. Of course, someone (not me) chose the front row and we were all lined up, front and centre on the recording. I told the Reverend that he may as well just stop the video now because all he was going to see was me giving everyone the “stink eye” and the pointer finger…you know the one. It’s the one that says “You, come here!” or “You, stop or else…” That Sunday was a particularly rough one. I couldn’t stand to watch it. I was embarrassed about how I would actually look. It wasn’t the kids I was worried about, it was me.
I’m glad to say that as the kids age, so am I. Aging, that is. I don’t get as overwrought about all the little things that kids do. I don’t have the energy. Also, my “stink eye” has been perfected over the years.
My kids are going to need years of counselling. Am I alone here?