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A few months ago we had an incident at the library. This was before corona. When libraries were still open and had baby times. Remember? When masks weren’t yet a fashion trend, and grocery shopping didn’t cause extreme anxiety?
But I digress. I’ll paint the picture for you.
We were at a baby time. For those who don’t know, that’s basically like a baby playtime at the library. The beginning of the program consisted of things like songs, puppets, and dancing, and then the librarian would read a story.
Well we were done with all of that, and it was craft time. My son isn’t into crafts, so as much as I would try to get him to glue the colored ball to the paper plate…he wasn’t having it, he was all about the toys. They had foam cushions you could jump on, puzzles and wooden tracks you could play with, but his favorite toy was the kitchenette. He really enjoyed cooking things for me and bringing them over for me to taste.
Well this was all fine until he decided to stand on top of a chair to cook my ‘food’. I told him he couldn’t do that and we moved on with life.
Well at some point, another little girl came over to play with the kitchen set. They were doing fine with their sharing and everything was going well. But then in the blink of an eye, the girl was standing on top of a chair, and my son was trying to pull her off of the chair. He succeeded, and he and the girl fell into a pile on the floor.
She was crying, my son looked confused, and I was shocked.
The thing is, my son isn’t violent. He’s not the type to man-handle anyone, so I didn’t understand. Also, I was upset, and embarassed because I didn’t know how the girl’s mom was going to react to this.
I ran over to my son, while the mother ran over to her daughter. She took her daughter away while I told my son that he shouldn’t put his hands on others and he needed to apologize.
He walked over to the girl and apologized. I looked and the mom and said, “I’m so sorry.”
The mom looked at me, smiled and said something I won’t forget. She said, “That’s ok, they’re all still learning.”
We left the library, but after my son was in the car I was still puzzled, I just didn’t understand why he’d done it, and at that point I realized that I’d never really asked him.
So I asked. And with his two year old logic, he explained, that I’d told him he couldn’t stand on the chair. So when the girl got up there, he told her that I’d said no, but she didn’t listen. So he was trying to help her get down so that she would be listening.
He was trying to help her not to get in trouble.
When I heard that my heart melted. He was trying to do the right thing, even though he didn’t go about doing it the right way. He had the best intentions.
I tell you that story because I learned three things that day. When that mom said, ‘they’re all still learning’, she was giving me grace. Kids are learning how to be kids. Parents are learning how to parent. Whatever situation you’re in, you’re still learning. So below are my takeaways from that day.
I need to give grace to other parents
Of course being in this situation made me wonder how I would have reacted if the roles had been reversed. Would I have been so calm and understanding?
Maybe we need to make more of an effort to realize most of us are doing this parenting thing the best way we know how. Our methods may differ, our tactics may seem strange, but at the end of the day, we are all hoping to raise respectful, amazing, and well-adjusted kids.
It’s easy to judge or even give unwarranted suggestions. What it’s harder to do, is give a little grace.
I need to give grace to my own child
When this incident happened, I responded to the outward action instead of the intent. It’s easy to do that sometimes. It reminds me of a movie I watched where the kids decided to make mom a special breakfast for Mothers’ Day. When they’d finished their preparations, the food was inedible, and the kitchen was a mess. It really turned out to be more work for the mom than anything else. But the intent of those kids….that was pure.
I’m learning that I really have to take the time to understand my child. I have to understand that he isn’t perfect. None of us are. So when these situations come, and he makes a mistake, I have to allow him to do that. And then I have to show him a better way. I need to teach him. And I need to be happy that he is still willing to learn.
I need to give grace to myself
During this incident I felt like the worst parent in the world. I was like oh no, I’m raising a bully. This is the first step to illicit crime rings. I mean I really blew this thing up!
But, I’m doing the absolute best that I can. I don’t have anything more to give, because I’m giving it all to him. So when things don’t turn out right. I need to give myself grace. But honestly, giving grace to myself is the hardest.
Somedays, when I need a mom-cation. It might look like a lot of episodes of Mickey Mouse clubhouse. I feel rotten, and I feel like a terrible mom. But I have to give myself grace. I have to realize that I’m doing my best. God paired me and my son together because he knew that even though I’m not perfect, I was the one best suited for him. I was the one he chose to teach my son everything he needs to know. And that means something to me.
Parenting is a long journey. Even when kids grow up and move out, they’ll still have a piece of you with them always. With that in mind, we need to pace ourselves, and give grace because it’s one of the greatest gifts we’ve been given.
So don’t be so hard on yourself. And don’t be so hard on others either. Remember, we’re all still learning.
Make life sweet and learn all you can.