A big spiritual toddler

One the challenges going on in our house right now is dealing with the kiddo getting upset when we ask her to do something she doesn’t want to do.  She wants to wheel and deal about things sometimes.  Occasionally that is OK.  Many times it’s not.  And 90 percent of the time no matter what deal we strike the actual task she wants to avoid is going to happen anyway.  She doesn’t have any say in the matter.

What both frustrates and amuses me are the times when she will be mad and upset about something like it’s the end of the world when we tell her.  Then a couple of minutes later when it’s time to do said activity, she’s cheerful about it.  For example, I was brushing our dog the other evening right before bed time.  My husband told the kiddo, “When your mom gets done brushing Buckles, it will be time for bed.”

This photo is from May 2010, so it's a bit dated, but it's the first one I think of for kiddo tantrums. This time she was crying because something scared her, but even though she's older now, I still see this face sometimes.

She heaved herself up against the couch in protest.  She insisted she was tired and she wanted to play longer — after all she wasn’t done preparing her pretend food for Thomas the Train.  My husband explained that she was wasting her play time since I was still brushing the dog.  The kid is pretty rational sometimes.  It got through to her.  She asked me to not be done brushing Buckles, yet.  I assured her I hadn’t even started on his ears, so she had time to finish cooking.  (The guy has long, furry ears that take some time and work with the brush.)

She noticed I was finished with brushing the dog before I could even say a word.  She bounded over asking if I was done and if she could give Buckles a treat before going to bed.  She happily gave him a treat and headed off down the hall to her bedroom.  Our battle was over.

These battles are both frustrating and amusing.  I get frustrated because, quite simply, my life would be a whole heck of a lot easier and my stress level a whole darn lot lower if she didn’t insist on fighting me off and on throughout the day on such things.  And they are amusing because she really does seem to have her fit of unhappiness for a minute and then move on happily.  From the parenting side, I know this is her way of testing to see if her fits can let her get her way (sorry, kid, that doesn’t work on us).  Also from the parenting side, I know I’m not just trivially making her do these things.  If I didn’t set a bedtime for her, she’d get tired and cranky.  If I didn’t insist she join me going to the grocery store, we wouldn’t have food for lunch.  If I didn’t force her to brush her teeth, they’d get filled with cavities.

She doesn’t realize these things.  She’s 2-1/2.  She’s not so great at the big picture, yet.  That’s why she has my husband and me.  We help her with these things because we do see the big picture.  She may think we’re trying to be mean; however, we’re just trying to do what is best for her.

As I was “marveling” at her behavior this week, I started thinking about how it mirrors my own spiritual journey.  Sometimes I am such a big spiritual toddler.  Something happens that I don’t like (even reasonably so) and I throw a fit to God.  “Why did you let this happen?  Haven’t we dealt with enough?  This is ridiculous!”  And then later, I come to acceptance.  Sometimes this happens quickly.  Sometimes it has literally taken me years to reconcile myself to some events in my life.  I like to think I’m getting less whiny and fussy about it to God.  But, there are certainly times where I still struggle.

I also know that God has the big picture.  He sees and knows way more than I do (that’s a huge understatement).  He knows what’s coming.  He knows what I need.  I’ve had times where I can look back and see how a big disappointment ended up working out for my good.  I whined and moaned and groaned and proverbially threw myself against the couch dramatically when it happened. But in the end, I complied and everything was better.

The challenge for my inner spiritual toddler and my real-life toddler is to learn to embrace these things from the beginning rather than fight them.  Just like she’s going to have a bedtime every night without any say in the matter, so am I going to have struggles in life that I can’t fix or change.  It just is that way.  It’s hard and it stinks and it makes me want to whine and rant and rave.  I think, however, the more mature way to handle it is to say, “OK.  I don’t understand.  It really, really hurts.  But, I trust You, God, that You know the big picture and You know what’s best.  I’ll go with You through this.”

Just like my child, I still struggle sometimes to be obedient.  While I can guide her gently and patiently, so does my Heavenly Father guide me.  While I can sometimes be more firm with her if she needs it, so is He with me.  I’m on this journey with Him.  Our relationship has grown and changed through the years.  I think I’m making progress, but I’m also still falling short.  And I’m thankful for the gift of the Holy Spirit to help me make up for my shortcomings.  I’m thankful that I can ask Him for help in being obedient and He will give it.  I pray that I can do something similar for my daughter.

For now, I’m just continuing to work on making sure I get past sometimes being a spiritual toddler and continue always moving forward.

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