This morning I took the kids to a Learning Express toy store, where a friend of mine was doing a book signing for her first children's book. We showed up early for the story time in which the book was going to be read. It was a risky move.
The Joneses have never really been story time people. The last story time we went to was when Jackson was 22 months old and we were at First Irving's preschool Christmas extravaganza. The fun day was capped off by story time in the library. Everything in me was going "Run! Run for your life!" but I didn't want to be rude. So we stayed. And my son did not stop moving the entire time. In fact, he grabbed a book off the shelf next to him and started flipping through it. We didn't really pay attention to the book because (A) we were in the church library and (B) we were listening to Mrs. Donna read her book. A couple minutes later we realized Jackson had chosen a book from the 1970's that teaches older kids about their anatomy. Awesome. We are the awesome parents who didn't realize their toddler was flipping through a book with huge anatomically correct diagrams.
So, story time 2010. I was not dumb enough to let Annabeth off my hip in a toy store with multi-level displays, which meant that I actually held her for 30 minutes straight. But Jackson got to sit on the floor like a big, mature 4.5-year-old. He listened politely but I know he was mostly thinking about all the toys filling his vision that his mommy had told him not to ask for. I would have felt bad for him if we hadn't been in that very store a week ago (because I had the date wrong for the book signing, of course) and bought him three toys and none for his sister who didn't care. She just likes to throw things these days.
After story time the kids "got their sillies out." The kids got to get up and do silly moves and be childlike. To my surprise, I looked down and saw my child sitting on the floor with his face in his hands. Pouting. Have I mentioned that several of my friends from growing up were there seeing this? Well, they were. And I shouldn't have cared, but I did. A few minutes later we bought two copies of the book - one for me and one for a giveaway I'd like to do - and lined up to have them signed. My sweet friend, Erica, got up from the table and asked her mom to take our picture. At that moment my son completely turned his back to the camera, so as to avoid being photographed.
We left right away. Is anyone else experiencing this kind of attitude from their preschooler? His recent interactions with adults and other kids have STUNK. So far I'm not aware of any problems at school or at church. This is happening repeatedly in my presence. Last night, we walked into my parents' house and the first thing he did was rudely say to my dad, "Why did you eat all my animal cookies?" And scowled. Y'all! What in the world? He was in so much trouble. I'm just at a loss.
My mom gave me really encouraging pep talk today about Jackson's world getting so much bigger recently with new things like soccer and choir. She said his little psyche needs time to catch up to the size of this world. That makes sense to me. But dealing with these heart and attitude issues is so hard. Curtis and I have been asking ourselves what we did to mess up our friendly kid. The only bright side is that maybe the Lord is giving him a keen awareness of his sin nature so he can come to repentance and put his faith in Christ. Maybe?
Then there's Annabeth, that sweet, sweet girl of mine. So precious with her big blue eyes, wide grin, and gooey boogs in her long bangs. Meal times have been nightmarish lately. Wait, do I want to call meal times nightmarish or save that word for any time I change her diaper or dress her? All are equally nightmarish. Meal times are a combination of violently throwing food, cups and silverware (such as the fork that was aimed at Jackson's head today) and the tantrum that ensues when I take away her plate for this bad behavior. Sometimes I ignore the throwing. I haven't figured out which one works because clearly neither tactic is working. Help me, Jesus.
Have you ever put a diaper on a cat? I'm guessing not. I feel sure it is somewhat like diapering Annabeth. My blood pressure goes up at the smell of anything bad because I know what's coming. It's such a battle. And yesterday when I was trying to get her dressed and her hair done for church, we ended up wrestling on our backs on the floor. It literally caused perspiration. By the time I got to Sunday school I just went straight to a chair and sat down. I had no energy to smile or initiate conversations. This stage of parenting is so stinking hard.
So today Annabeth appeared to want to visit the ER, based on her refusal to quit climbing everything in sight. In the four o'clock hour, she fell off my bed, nearly fell off our netted trampoline, and pulled Jackson's Leapster off the counter top in such a way that it smacked into her forehead. Now she has a new bruise to add to the one next to it that was finally starting to fade.
I think more than anything, me and all the moms who are raising little kids want to be validated. Even though our children are adorable, and even though we will look back on these years with longing and tremendous fondness, and even though we love our kids with all our hears, it is really hard. We are physically exhausted from lifting them, cleaning up after them, cooking for them, carting them everywhere we go, bathing them, and being available every waking and non-waking moment. We are emotionally drained from being consistent with our discipline and listening to the sibling feuds. We are worried that we aren't doing a good job and discouraged because we compare ourselves to other moms who are more creative or put together or organized or resourceful.
Older women, please pray for us. Please pray for my friends who take their children to physical, occupational, and speech therapy multiple times a week. Please pray for my friend B who found out this year that her son has autism. Please pray for another friend whose beautiful son has limb differences. Please pray for my friend K, a mother of two little ones, who has been sick for a month. Please pray for my friends J and C who are getting ready to add to their families by adopting through foster care. Please pray for my friends whose husbands work very long hours or travel all the time. Please pray for my friends who haven't been blessed with children yet and would trade their set of frustrations and exhaustion for mine. And yes, even after all that I have written, I mean it when I say "blessed with children." I am blessed.