It started out well. By 9: 30 a.m., everyone ate a healthy breakfast, got dressed, made beds and did their chores. Practically speaking, it was a great start to the day. Then, the bad attitudes started. My two older boys are having a hard time understanding that their little brother just wants to be included. Honestly, I don’t know how to handle this situation. I want to protect their little lego structures, but I want to protect my little one’s heart. It’s a tough situation.
Then, the discontentment crept in. Since changing our eating habits, everyone has been more than happy with the food choices we have…except for my 4 year old. After making him his “normal” favorite lunch, he broke down and complained about how he just wants chips and ice cream (which we never ate before anyways!) Later this evening, my oldest son’s slinky got tangled beyond repair. We threw it away and he went to pieces, despite the fact that we still have 2 other perfectly functioning slinkys to play with in the house.
Then, the fear started. I posted about how my oldest and I had been dealing with fear here. Fear is like a cancer. It silently enters, mutates, and deteriorates whatever it can find that is good and whole. My once fearless children have become fearful of going down in the basement playroom by themselves, of being in the dark, and of strangers (like the mailman) who are part of our every day lives.
As I sit and write tonight, I am exhausted. How could such a great morning turn to an exhausting afternoon? And the answer is…this is normal. My kids are normal. Sibling rivalry, fear, and complaining are par for the parenting course. And yet, I am not one to sit back and just ignore it all.
I’m still at a loss for my dear youngest boy. My efforts of playing with him while the big boys play with big boy toys are becoming less effective. Sometimes we take the approach of preferring their little brother over themselves, leaving my older boys unfairly without their much needed legos to complete their masterpieces. Sometimes we justly tell the youngest “no” every time he demands his equal rights to the toys, resulting in loud, screeching tantrums and the recurrence of said demand over and over.
The discontentment makes me, well…angry. It’s a selfish thing, I know. I want to say, “I worked so hard to make you a healthy meal, stop complaining and eat!” Most of the time, I resist. All I can do on this one is plug away. One thing that has helped my oldest is perspective. We have always shared with our boys what goes on around the world and in our city. We’ve posted pictures around the house to remind us to pray for our brothers and sisters who need our prayers. Our oldest seems to finally be understanding how fortunate we are. His complaining has diminished and his praying for others has increased. Still, he broke down over a slinky, which was a major reality check for us. He is only 5 after all. I guess this is one of those trials in my daily life that will produce in me perseverance…for now it’s giving me a headache!
As for fear…we are playing offense. This is one issue I don’t to ignore. I want to start giving them tools to use that will help when they struggle with fear. As simple and silly as it sounds, we talked through (again) what fear is, that it is not from the Lord, and that He is always with us. Then we did a craft that coordinated with their favorite movie series, The Chronicles of Narnia. (In my boys free time, they chase each other around the house, swords and shields in hand, defeating the white witch and taking turns being Peter, the valiant, or Edmund, the traitor turned brave.) We talked about what fears Peter and Edmund had and what would have happened in battle had they given in to fear. Instead, they chose to be brave and courageous, knowing that they had been given everything they needed to fight and win the battle.
I didn’t want to just be the lecturing mom. My boys seem to remember every craft they’ve ever made, so what better way to reference what we’ve learned? We made shields with the Aslan crest and “inscribed” our shields with some Biblical truth: “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid…for the Lord your God is with you.”
We cut an old diaper box into the shapes of shields and covered them with aluminum foil. Then, with red construction paper, I drew the lion crest and cut them out. The boys colored the Bible verse and we made it into a battle song while we decorated. Then, their favorite part, they glued it all together.
I’m not suggesting that this solved the fear issue. But we stopped our day, talked through the issue, and attempted to shed some truth on it. Besides, look how happy some markers and glue make kids! Tonight as they sleep next to their new shields (yes, they are next to their beds), I pray that those words that we sang sink into their hearts so that one day they believe them.