My children have an incredible ability to get under my skin. My sweet boy Everett is 3 1/2 and soon after he turned 3 I remember thinking that the terrible 2s should instead be called the terrible 3s. Last week we were on our way to have lunch at school with big sister Madeleine, so I turned off Handy Manny, a show about a handyman named Manny, and noticed that something was on the TV. Everett had hidden the toy saw that Santa gave him for Christmas behind him, and I quickly realized that Everett had used the saw to make scratches on our DLP TV screen. Everett eventually explained that he was sawing like Manny. We have not watched Handy Manny since... These 6 5-inch scratches were in the middle of the TV and did not rub off. The TV repair man came yesterday and said that he thought he could buff them out, and as he loaded our TV into his van I realized that he did not tell us how much that would cost... I am thinking of confiscating Everett's allowance until he is 10...
That same day Everett was "napping," when I heard him using his toy hammer. I was wishing that Santa had not gotten him the entire tool set for Christmas... My sweet angel of a son was banging on his wall with such power that I had to use putty to fill in the holes and repaint.
The tools are now in a cabinet that is so high even I had to get the step stool to put them inside.
This morning Everett was not doing what he was supposed to do and after his period of reflection (the famous time-out), he would not apologize for his behavior. It was amazing how quickly his refusal to do what we wanted him to do got under our skins. We might appear to be calm and rational adults, but we quickly diverted to people who were taking away everything that this sweet boy loves. No TV, no books before bedtime, no gymnastics. Oh, you still won't do what I want you to do... AHHH! My 6 year old daughter, Madeleine suggested that we not let him play Star Wars for a year (he loves his light sabers), but after careful reflection I thought a year might be a bit long. She amended her suggestion to one month.
Everett eventually did apologize, but it was an out of body experience for me to see how quickly our anger came out, how quickly he was able to push all of our buttons and get under our skins. Being a parent is hard, and taking that time to count to 10 and calm down is so essential.
After Everett made the scratches on the TV, we went to have lunch with big sister Madeleine at her school. I had not screamed at him, but instead kept saying that I could not believe what he had done. I was so distraught and did not know what to do, and told the lunch lady what had happened. She told me, "Well, you love him, but you do not love his choices." Such wisdom from the lunch lady.
Yes, I love my son and there are many times when I do not love his choices. And that made me think about God (because you know, I'm a United Methodist preacher and we do that.. :) ) Yes, God loves me, but there are many times when God does not love my choices.