I'm guest blogging over at Piedmont Parent today, so check it out! The text of the post is below, if you're reading this late. If you're local, you're probably familiar with the magazine. The website is equally chock full o' information.
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Non-Biblical Lessons from Vacation Bible School
Thanks to the folks at PP for the opportunity!
Practically (Im)Perfect in Every Way
My children are the smartest, funniest, most charming and extraordinarily good looking kids on the planet. Just ask anyone. OK, maybe just ask me. If you ask anyone else, they might say that they are good kids, but they're also prone to naughtiness and rudeness, they don't clean their rooms and often forget to flush toilets. They are, in other words, normal kids. Which is why I'm always surprised at how I react when they behave that way.
Last week, my youngest bit a little girl in the church nursery. I was mortified, apologized profusely to the mother, and vowed that it would never, ever happen again. Until three days later, when he did it again. This time, instead of reassuring myself with 'it's just a phase!', I was deeply embarrassed. So embarrassed that I actually considered not telling the mom. "It's not that bad, right?" I asked the other nursery worker as I furiously rubbed the bite mark, willing it to go away. "Right?" In the end, lying to someone in the church nursery seemed like a one way ticket to hell. And even though the mom was incredibly understanding, I still felt like a jerk.
That's one of the best, and one of the worst, parts of parenting. We take it all so personally. When my ten year old daughter got a school award, you'd think she'd received the Nobel Prize by the boasting I did on Facebook. The credit lay only loosely in what we did as her parents, she did most of the work herself. On the flip side, you don't see me posting about her preteen tantrums or the aforementioned toilet flushing issue. Her shortcomings are no more my fault than her attributes are my successes.
I find that I become more accepting of 'kids being kids' with subsequent children. When our middle child was three, we took all the kids out to lunch. On the best of days, taking three smallish children out to eat is a crap shoot. Even well behaved children have the potential to become hooligans - ramming their bodies against the back of the booth, throwing food, yelling 'I HAVE TO POOP!' at top volume. The risk versus reward on eating out is so high that we didn't set foot inside a restaurant that didn't feature a cartoon character mascot for a solid two years. But every now and again I delude myself into thinking that all will be well, and we pack them up, take them out, and hope for the best.
Halfway through the meal the three year old, who has been jamming cheese quesadilla in her mouth at an alarming rate, finally reaches maximum capacity and vomits her entire meal on to the table. My oldest child (the one with the vomit phobia) screams and runs away from the table. The vomiter is crying and the baby, in an act of solidarity, starts in as well. I scoop the three year old up to take her into the bathroom to wash. As I'm leaving the table, I say something that I never would have said with Child #1:
"Don't let them take my food. I'm not done eating."
If that incident had happened with our first, I would have been completely horrified. I would have rushed everyone out of there after apologizing (and most likely crying) to the employees and fellow diners and never, ever gone back. But the longer I have kids, the more I realize - they're just kids. They make mistakes and embarrass us and themselves and try to navigate the world around them with the limited tools they have.
Kind of like adults.
So whether they're barfing on tables and biting playmates, or being charming and winning awards, I try to remember - they're just people. They're capable of the very best and the very worst, and I love them no matter how they behave. I hope they'll do the same for me.
2 weeks ago