With all of the chaos that has been Landon's first two weeks of school, I have decided to reread Dr. James Dobson's The New Strong-Willed Child. Each time I read it, I get some new insight into how I can better deal with Landon and his temperament. It also serves as a good reminder to me that Landon is put together exactly the way that God intended him to be. My job, then, is not to "fix" him, but to guide him into the place God has for him in this world. What a relief!
This is a story from the book. I'm glad that it's at the beginning because it always puts things in a better perspective for me when I read it:
"...Imagine yourself in a grocery store, pushing a cart up the aisle. You give the basket a small shove, and it glides at least nine feet out in front and then comes to a gradual stop. You walk along happily tossing in the soup and ketchup and loaves of bread. Grocery shopping is such an easy task, for even when the cart is loaded with goods, it can be directed with one finger.
Buying groceries is not always so blissful. On other occassions, you select a cart that ominously awaits your arrival at the front of the market. When you push the stupid thing forward, it tears off to the left and knocks over a stack of bottles. Refusing to be outmuscled by an empty cart, you throw all your weight behind the handle, fighting desperately to keep the ship on course. It seems to have a mind of its own as it darts toward the eggs and careens back in the direction of a terrified grandmother in green tennis shoes. You are trying to do the same shopping assignment that you accomplished with ease the week before, but the job feels more like combat duty today. You are exhausted by the time you herd the contumacious cart toward the checkout counter.
What is the difference between the two shopping carts? Obviously, one has straight, well-oiled wheels that go where they are guided. The other has crooked, bent wheels that refuse to yield. Do you get the point? We might as well face it; some kids have crooked wheels! They do not want to go where they are led because their own inclinations take them in other directions. Furthermore, the parent who is pushing the cart must expend seven times the energy to make it move, compared with the parent of a child with straight wheels..."
We had a really hard day at school yesterday. It was picture day and everything was off schedule. On top of that, Landon had gotten bit by some sort of insect at school on Thursday and his face was so swollen he could hardly open his eye when he woke up in the morning, so I had given him some tylenol (we were out of Benadryl) which was making him kind of tired. He threw a fit in the morning going into his classroom, refused to take his picture then got upset when he didn't get to do it, ran away from the cafeteria at lunch, and had another fit when his teacher had to wake him up from his nap. When he got to my room, he was pretty much out of control. He was screaming at me and threw his snack on the floor. When I tried to talk him down, it just upset him more.
In the midst of his tantrum, in walked Sierra. She came bouncing in with her giant smile, showing me her flower mask and black sheep she had made in kindergarten and singing "Mary Mary Quite Contrary." And I caught myself thinking "Why can't he just be like Sierra? She's so easy!"
But, that's not how he is meant to be. God did not choose to give Landon "straight wheels" as he did Sierra. But, I am confident that the "crooked wheels" God chose for Landon are the exact ones that he needed. God did not make a mistake. My task, then, is not to change Landon's "wheels". Instead, I am to use all the strength I need to guide that crooked-wheeled cart where it is meant to go. And if it gets off course and knocks over some displays along the way. We will stop, pick them up and continue on our way. We will finish our shopping list and will arrive at the checkout counter exhausted, but knowing that we accomplished our task. And the task will be well worth it in the end.