Attitudes over here at the Pogue Cottage have been at an all-time high. Our boys too. (W;ink)
It seems everything we ask is too demanding or said in a different tongue because we are met with a wall of non-responsive, heavy-sighing, blank staring, eye-rolling children.
“I don’t want to.”
“But… ” eyes look around to blame the nearest item for their procrastination.
Or, our favorite: 0-60 crying and whining. Apparently seven and almost five is the new 9 months. It’s never-ending, this parenting gig, amen? As soon as we figure out a routine, life changes. Teachers and schedules shift. Hearts soar, then hurt. Friend circles enlarge. Not to mention Bry and I are constantly learning, failing, growing. We’re just a lovely clod of dirt and seeds over here, friends.
At first we thought a heart chart was in order. Ya know, so we don’t yell and go crazy and react instead of respond. We are slow learners at times. It turns out yelling over our kids’ volume doesn’t help. Who knew? The heart chart helped for a few weeks but then whining and bickering took over.
As my folks call it, Bry and I had a “come to Jesus” talk. To discuss what was working. Which was nada. Zilch. We felt empty and depleted in the parent department. Oh hi, my hubby is the Family Pastor at our church. We totally know how to parent these sweet boys. Eye roll.
We began looking past their behavior and peering at their heart. Ty is adjusting to all day school. I’m working way more. Not a day goes by he doesn’t say, “Mom, I don’t want you to leave. Will you always be with me?” I pull him close and assure him, “Even when mommy isn’t here,” I point to the ground, “I am here.” My hand clap his chest. So much change for this creative munch.
Bryan drops Tanner off and watches a 2rd grade boy tease our son about losing at tetherball. “You can’t even beat the kids that are shorter than you.” Bry is tempted to beat the 2nd grader’s face in, but intentionally stands back. Tanner is learning his pecking order and it’s not a warm fuzzy one.
We feel at a loss and then God’s Spirit stirs and we understand.
Please hold. And hug.
If you ask my friend, they’ll tell you “please hold” is one of my sayings. It means, “one second, one jif, please wait a moment.”
Ya know, please hold.
We notice when Ty worries about my absence what he really needs is for us to “please hold” so he can be held. To be reminded he is seen and loved, and even when we aren’t with him, we are praying for him.
We notice when Tanner is mouthy and growls like a baby coyote, he is processing and crying out to be held. We forget he is a still a child who is grappling to make sense of much and needs physical care and love. Bry took him out and asked, “How can we help you, T?” You know what Tanner said? “I need more hugs.”
When did we stop singing and hugging and pausing whatever we are doing that obviously isn’t working to hold them? How did we neglect to notice they are not old enough to understand and process the whirlwind of change and that they should “just obey?”
Forget the dirt clods. We are planting seeds. We are choosing to pause. To hold. To respond with hugs, not yells. To hold, not argue. To whisper, “We love you” instead of finger-wagging.
And it’s working. We’re all softening. Child and parent. Child and parent. We’re listening and looking beyond the physical and choosing to see what’s deeper in one another.
From the messy soil, tender green shoots break through. And they start, each one, with, “Please hold. And hug.”