Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Rewind, Please

Since this new year has started, I have come to fully believe that parenting is hard work. Not that I did not think it was hard before, but it has simply reached a whole new level of hard, if you know what I mean. In a matter of weeks, we have gone from toddler and pre-school behavior training (you know, like don't stick that crayon up your nose, it is not nice to bite, use your inside voice, don't ever run with scissors, that kind of thing), to character training.

It's funny, really, how this came about. A few short weeks ago, at the end of last year, Boss and I were praising ourselves for a job well done. Emma was a model child who was thriving in our home school, Kate was fully potty trained and sleeping through the night, no more diaper bags or sippies were needed on outings, there were minimal fits, and life was great! We knew we would head back in to all of that come March with Jack Ryan's arrival, but for the time being we had it made. This parenting stuff was easy and we had it down pat. And then one night last week all of that changed.

I was in the bathroom brushing my teeth and Emma was sitting on the counter watching me. The rest of the house was in bed, so it was just the two of us. She told me she had a secret that she wanted to tell me. Let's just say I was not prepared. Her top secret secret was that she now thought all boys were cute. Not just as in cute as her friends, but cute as in they made her giggle (her words!). Cute like they made her blush. I choked on my toothpaste and quickly spit it out. Excuse me? Rewind, please. This is my baby who was telling me this. My two years out of diapers baby. My still needs mommy to wipe her bottom and tuck her in after a bad dream baby. And here we were having our first real conversation about the opposite sex? When did this happen? But have no fear, I played it cool. Until she shared the next part of her secret.

She told me that once she had even thought a married man was cute and that she and her friends could not stop giggling when they saw him. What??!! Someone rewind this tape and give me my baby back! I was not ready for this! We ended that night by talking about how it is okay to think people are cute, that if they are married that means they belong to somebody, that she is only five and it is her job to simply play and have fun and be a kid. I have no idea if I said the right things, but I do know I had trouble sleeping that night.

Where had these thoughts come from? We are not the kind of family that has talked about dating in front of her (not even the big girls do that and she is never alone with them), she has never had play dates without me there, she is home schooled, so I know most of what she is surrounded by each day, we don't watch Hannah Montanna, or iCarly, or shows like that (not because they are necessarily bad, but because I do not think they are age appropriate for a five year old), and yet, somehow, I had found myself discussing boys and married men with my little girl. Whew.

And the week got worse from there. Since then we have discussed how people look different and how she thinks some people look weird, how she wants to be pretty because she likes pretty people, how she thinks boy/girl dancing (she saw this on a commercial) looks romantic, and how she wonders how God can be good all of the time. Such heavy topics to be discussing with my five year old. I certainly was not prepared for this new phase of life, and I find myself answering new questions every day.

I do not write this for you to judge my child or my parenting. My more experienced mama friends tell me this exploration of her thoughts is normal. She is simply learning what it means to have her own opinions and how to deal with all of the thoughts that she has. We have been talking a lot lately about asking God to create in us a kind and pure heart. But my mama heart has been heavy. Rewind time, please. I was not ready to enter this stage with my baby. I needed more time with her as a toddler! She is growing up too fast, and suddenly my answers matter. This character training is hard stuff. My answers, and how I deal with things, are no longer only shaping her behavior, they are helping to shape her heart. A weighty task, indeed.

I had to laugh at an article I read earlier today. It was about 'Raising Dorks'. The author was conveying the point that you can always fast forward childhood, but you can never rewind it. He was talking about keeping our children, children, for as long as we possibly can. If that means protecting them from television shows, the Internet, friends, etc....if it means raising what the world considers 'dorks', then is it not worth it? Interesting thoughts.

Boss and I thought we were doing that. We have sheltered our children quite a bit, yet somehow, sin and doubt still managed to enter the heart of my child at a very young age. As much as I want to rewind time and go straight back to the simple, exhausting, silly, Wiggles days, I can't. We have entered a new phase and my little girl is growing up. In the blink of an eye our conversations changed. Character training has officially begun. I will admit I am scared. You only get one shot at this journey called parenting. But I am ready. I am more ready than ever to commit my children and their hearts to Christ, to the God who created them. I am more ready than ever to cherish each phase, for I just experienced first hand that they change in the blink of an eye. I am more ready than ever to make my home a safe, God-honoring place that will encourage my children in their walks. Because this I have learned, you cannot rewind time.

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