Shu has been a Cranky Pants the past few days.
I wish I understood more reliably what sets him off. Really, REALLY wish he could tell me. Like, I get the food issue, or being told no. Check. This bath episode? Not a clue.
Today after lunch we went outside to play. He was ticked from the beginning. Weird issues with stepping down (or up), crossing over barriers, even while holding my hand...in addition to all the other bees in his bonnet. He wigged out about stepping off the porch. Holding my hand, mind you. I wasn't shoving him over a precipice. I know that I could have acted in grace and compassion, lifting him gently and lovingly down over the step. Instead I said Nope. Stand up. We're doing this. So he's crying, snot dripping, tears pooling in the flat place between his eyes, and I am physically forcing his feet and legs where they need to go.
OK. Fine. Not the first time, and won't be the last.
There's a step down from the garage floor onto our driveway--a one inch difference. Shu has been scared to cross it, to walk out onto the driveway. So we've practiced in the past, me holding his hand. I'm not trying to traumatize him, but come on...this is a very manageable task, I think, for a 20 month old who is walking very steadily.
I looked up from my leaf raking (and by "raking" I mean using our deep snow shovel...brilliant!...to dump leaves in bags, arguably the biggest time suck ever) to see Shu walking alone, back and forth, in and out of the garage. An activity that looked at casual glance like nothing at all, but actually reveals much about Shu, his personality and the way he learns.
Amazing. This look of studied concentration on his face, like I am so totally going to conquer this today. And I'm sure he was also thinking I'm really regretting all the grief I've given mom about it in the past 'cause now I fully grasp that she is just trying to help me learn and grow and so maybe I'll stop throwing a tantrum every time she wants me to try a new task.
So what's my point? Something about trying to figure out what makes our kids tick and how hard and when to push them, when to back off. Something about knowing them. It's a huge part of parenting, right? I give Absent-Minded Professor piano lessons (and every other lesson since I home school him), and I know precisely how hard I need to push him--pretty dang hard!--to get the best out of him. And it works! He simply would not perform as well for any other teacher right now.
But with Shu I have this constant nagging feeling that
I. Do. Not. Know. Him.
What's scary and sad and profound to me is that no one else knows him any better than I do. He lived in an orphanage for 13 months, longer than he's been my son, but how deep is one's knowledge of a child who spent the majority of his days lying on his back in a crib? Could they possibly have known how strong-willed he is, or how playful, or curious? I know they didn't have any idea how physically strong he would become.
But I did. So I often decide to press through the tantrum...his, mine, whatever...to push him to do what I believe he's capable of, what will actually make him a happier child. Not so much with his speech delays. That's going to require way more back off than push for the time being. See! Look at me, figuring that out!!!
I'm learning. I'm winging it. I'm failing forward in my quest to know and grow my son and his heart. I'm trusting that God gives wisdom generously so that at least some of my thoughts are actually His thoughts. What sweet relief.
If you don't know what you're doing, pray to the Father. He loves to help. You'll get his help, and won't be condescended to when you ask for it. Ask boldly, believingly, without a second thought. James 1:5 (MSG)
Okey-doke. Maybe I'm getting it right more often than I realize.