I once had a parent tell me they didn’t want me watching their children because I didn’t react enough to her liking. As if I was not as qualified to watch her children because I didn’t freak out enough when parenting my own children. I almost laughed out loud at her. The irony was not lost on me.
I was thinking about that comment earlier today as I was sitting at the kitchen table trying soooo hard not to lose it on the spot. Trying not to scream at the top of my lungs and throw a tantrum just like by children sitting next to me. Two of my boys have spent 8 hours (and counting) on their math work today. You have no idea. It’s so simple, it’s ridiculous – but they’ve decided they don’t want to do it so they’re holding out to see if I’ll make them finish it before bed tonight or not.
Have you ever tried to work with a child when they’ve made up their mind not to do something? Oh. my. gosh. I honestly believe that God gives me just a smidgen more endurance to outlast their stubbornness. But that smidgen is all I need even if it leaves me completely and totally drained. Always enduring. Never giving up.
When we had chickens, I had a whole new appreciation for the farmer. I had no idea chickens could be so fast and nimble. Have you ever tried to catch one? Goodness gracious! I feel like everyone should raise a couple of chickens for at least a few months to have an appreciation for the work that goes into the eggs they crack into every yummy dish they create. Every time I pick up a carton of eggs at the store now, I think – well that was easy. I was completely clueless before we had chickens.
I feel the same way about special needs children. I wish everyone could care for a special needs child in their home (as their own) for at least a few months. Doesn’t matter to me what the special need is – just that everyone did it. There would be a whole new level of appreciation for the special needs parent(s) sitting at a table next to you in a restaurant, walking down the aisle at the store, sitting behind you on an airplane. “I could never parent a special needs child. I don’t have the patience.” -you say? I’m pretty sure not a single person, ever, hoped and prayed they would have a special needs child because they considered themselves patient. Yeah…pretty sure that’s a big no. But they find the patience bit by bit regardless. Because it’s their child. And…never because it’s easy for them as if they have some special gift of patience and you don’t. God gives you opportunities to learn patience, we choose whether to take on the challenge or hide from it.
The thing is though…you learn a lot about yourself when you care for a special needs child. You learn every single one of your weaknesses but you also learn every single one of your strengths. Hopefully, with time, you even improve on some of your weaknesses and become stronger overall. Funny how that works.
I sat there at the table earlier today, kinda amazed I was able to just let myself be numb to the tantrums. Tantrums are my kryptonite. I’ve dealt with so many of them, on such grand scales, for extended periods of time that all my patience seems to instantly drain into oblivion the moment one of my children start. I kept going, staying calm, and talking them through the math work they were refusing to put any effort into.
I learned a long time ago, that children will react off of your reactions. If you freak out, they freak out. I try to interact with my kids as calmly and as in the moment as I possibly can. I don’t always succeed…but I try anyway.