22 July 2011

all that bound up foolishness

I am in love. 
I am in love with both of these people, but specifically mine, the one on the right there. 

Instead of Yes Mam, he says Messam.
He calls his Pajamas either Conjangles or Conjamas, depending on whether he's having a sense of humor (Conjangles he knows is wrong, but likes to say it anyway).
He brings me my shoes wherever he finds them in the house.

He would wear a diaper on his head if I wanted him to - a pink headband, sure, Mama, whatever you say. 

Right this second, he is 'hiding' in a storage bin in the middle of the living room floor saying "ready not here i come" which is nonsensical since that is what the seeker says, not the hider.
And no one is actually looking for him.

His favorite color is pink.  

He loves his quilt that our friend Carolyn gave him as a baby present.  He says "Banket Time" when he wants to go get it.
Apologetic that he has icing on his face. 

He says "Mama watch dis. Mama watch dis.  Mama watch dis."  over and over and over again.

Whenever I mention a bandaid, he reminds me of the ant bites he had on his hand about six months ago.  For which he was given bandaids.

He counts.  "1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 13"
Happy playing with dirt alone. 

He loves noodles and plums and peaches and shicken, though he calls all meat chicken.

(This is not something particular to him.  A lot of children do this.  For the love of culinary integrity:  It is not cute past the child's third birthday.  Then it is just silly and quite ignorant sounding.  Children should know the difference between pigs and cows and birds, and between pork, beef and chicken.) 

He says "Tanktoo" and "Pwease" and it will be extra painful when he adds the Th and Y and replaces the W with an L.  But it will happen.  And we'll be glad of it.  Because that's what children are supposed to do, right?  Learn to say words correctly?
One whole egg.  The siblings can have the rest. 

He has priceless cadence - different from his big brother or sister, and it endears him to me like nothing else.

He is absolutely doted upon by his siblings, who stress the second syllable of his name rather than the first. 
Drawing in the sand. 

He is awesome.  Completely awesome.
But guess what?  He is not innocent.  Isn't that just the worst of it?  These little people with whom we are entrusted, who are the cutest things of all time, who wow us with their smiles, then their laughs, then their mispronunciations, and then their perceptions (the perceptions are the best) are not without spot or blemish.  

These precious ones who impress us at every turn (The child says "Messam" for heavens sake) are also sinners.

They don't do right.

Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child.  I didn't make it up; God said it.

My baby who is perfect is the furthest thing from perfect.

And, not only is he flawed like the rest of us, but he's had very little time to work on it. 
Little bit Collins, in all of his glory, is just awful. 

He screams when he doesn't get his way.  He fights with his brother and friends.  He is not good at conflict resolution.  He makes messes.  He is disrespectful to his mother and father.  He refuses correction, especially from someone other than his parents. 

Separating - or, more accurately, holding in tension - those two things - the glorious and the awful - well, it's the hardest task a parent has, I think.  (At least the hardest abstract task; labor, delivery, pottytraining, and keeping their clothes clean all are quite difficult as well.)

We must glory in them without letting that shade over their need for discipline.  We must discipline them without that interfering with our love and adoration of them.

Paul always says it's a good thing they are so cute because if not..... well.

It is a good thing, and not an accidental thing.  They are the cutest at the same time they are the hardest.  So we don't run screaming down the street, see? 

Erring on the side of worshiping these delighful little people is what our current world does, but only a few short generations ago, we erred the other way.  Daddies didn't love their babies, and often times Mamas didn't either (useful MadMen reference inserted here).   Children were abused and put to work and not gloried in, and now they are bowed down before and allowed to set the family's routine, diet and not expected ever to work.

John Stuart Mill was required to read in Latin and Greek before his fourth birthday.  (He wasn't some anomaly - it was commonplace in the upperclass of his generation to require of their children fluent reading and writing in at least four or five languages).  And now, as the mother of a soon to be third grader I hear "Are you really going to make her memorize those declensions?"
Yep.  I am.

We're trying to avoid the ditches over here.  Trying to avoid worship or disdain of the little buggers.  They're just people after all, and yet, they are people, created imago dei.   

With my other two children, I was more apt to fall into the forgetting-how-awesome-they-are ditch.  But with Collins, I can see that his sweetness and awesomeness and perfect cuteness is making me want to fall into the other ditch - of just letting him get away with not obeying.

So, when you see the pained look on my face over the next months, know that it is because disciplining my baby is harder than it was with the other two.  When it was hard to discipline Ada Bee and Eas, it was because I was lazy.  Now it is because Collins says "messam" and "ready not here I come" when he's the one hiding.

It's hard.   All that bound up foolishness must be driven away from him.  And it's not fun so doing.  But, I've got to buck up little soldier.  This is my fight.  This is my battleground.  Walk the balance beam.  We'll get through it.

1 comment:

  1. Loved this post. My first is particularly easy going and good natured and is just so stinkin' cute that discipline is so hard sometimes. Thanks for the remember. Your writing is so beautiful and you words so well chosen.