Parenting Lessons from a Well-Planned but Derailed Walk

My morning began at 5 AM with a frustrated, hungry, and wet diaper baby. After satiating him, I decided that there wasn’t much point in returning to bed. The alarm would only go off in 3o minutes. I had to leave early for a 7:30 AM doctor appointment.

Feeling quite proud of myself, I organized a kid swap with my husband to take place near his work, so that I could have my acupuncture in solitude. Then, being an excellent mom, we would go and bike on the paved railroad trail. I was looking forward to a brisk walk with two happy bikers and a delighted baby, while I exercised my body and drank a good coffee.

However, the outing was anything but delightful. Mr. Smackdown gained a new found confidence and raced ahead, around bends that I could not see. And Mr. Me-Too decided that he would pedal so slowly that even if he were filmed, fast forward would not show his bike moving. My frustration over a lack of exercise, lack of clear vision, and lack of my idyllic plan working was only topped off by a weird spasm in my leg that has left my calf muscle in a tight knot.

Even though this really is a trivial and insignificant sour day in the grand scheme of my life and recent events, I found myself muttering to God, “Why me? I am being a good mom and I feel like I am being punished. I was exercising for You, God. Cut me a little slack.”

And then I was reminded that instead of asking, “Why me, God?” that instead I should rephrase the question to, “What, God? What are you revealing to me through this circumstance? Through my children?”

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I really wasn’t very excited that God chose to remind me of what I recently learned at Bible Study. I pushed this question aside as I sighed loud enough for the mom whizzing by on blades pushing her ONE child in a jogging stroller while she was LISTENING to her i pod and tried not to be jealous for easier times. But after hurrying Mr. Smackdown off of the path that he was blocking, and grabbing Mr. Me-Too out of harms way, in which he dramatically fell off of his bike . . . I realized that I had it all wrong. My children were being children. They were doing things that were appropriate for their age. I, however, was not acting age appropriate.

I was hurrying. I had my own agenda. My own plans. And it just doesn’t work that way. I could have given Mr. Smackdown clear instructions to only get so many yards ahead of us. I could have encouraged Mr. Me-Too in his newly learned discovery of pedaling and riding a big boy bike, instead of scaring him into submission.

Our morning out was not fun. And it was my fault. There are three things that I always need to remember when I am out playing with my kids.

  1. I can’t rush them. Kids aren’t ruled by clocks. They don’t have appointments. They take the time to drink in the wonder of creation and observe people, especially people in motion. God caused me to slow down. Whatever I did to my leg, culminated in my hobbling back very slowly for two miles.
  2. My kids are different. Mr. Smackdown is encouraged when I say, “Go faster. Let me see you bike like the wind.” But Mr. Me-Too, he wants to talk about all of his observations. He is simply delighted to be on his bike and using his body to slowly view the trees, a bridge, and other bikers. I run a great risk of destroying Mr. Me-Too’s unique personality by my brashness. Mr. Me-Too needs touch to be encouraged. Mr. Smackdown needs a goal.
  3. I have a choice. I can react or I can respond. Reacting, which is negative by definition, takes little to no thought and is potentially the most damaging to my children. Responding, which is positive by definition, takes thought. It takes self-control.
My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires. (James 1:19,20)

Oh, as they say in the real estate world, “Location, location, location.” As I say in the mommy world, “Self-control, self-control, self-control.”

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  • Sherri , July 25, 2009

    Sounds like a rough day…..I remember days like those–hang on, they grow up waaaay toooo fast! Today, while giving a civilian directions to the BMV (so that they could get their revoked license reinstated…)a dog from out of NOWHERE…came around and began sniffing (clue #1!) then pee'd on my boot (which I just shined last night)…it got a little worse from there…but then again, there were only 2 hours to my shift left….!!!

  • Stacie , July 25, 2009

    Sounds like a rough day. I sure hope that your day got better. My middle son is like that he loves to run ahead. He likes to explore.

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