I had JUST told my friends how very excited I was that for the first time in eight years, I was going to have the house to myself, for a week! My three kids were heading to Vacation Bible School (VBS) for three hours, all five days that next week. I had been looking forward to this week for months. You see, I have three children, home for the summer, and the oldest is eight years old. The “baby,” now three years old, has ALWAYS been home with me so this was going to be new for both of us! (Yipee!)
I was sure that this was going to be the best $30 I ever spent!
He seemed to be doing okay, until I picked him up the second day… the NICEST group leader EVER, Ms. Amy, tried her best to put a positive spin on it, but my baby was NOT coping well in a group setting. She encouraged me to bring him back the next day to “try it one more time.” As I am getting the scoop from Ms. Amy, the director hurriedly walks by, stops abruptly and says, as he points to my three year old, …”Oh yeah, if he can not follow rules, then he can NOT come back,” and then kept on walking. Apparently, my Luke was not able to sit and follow directions well, like all the other children.
CRUSHED! My heart sank…not because my work time just got shelved, but because I was so embarrassed! It is humiliating to think that my child was the seemingly ONLY kid that was being asked to NOT come back… to Vacation Bible School! I left that day, questioning myself and wondering where I had gone wrong with my child. My other two kids were coping just fine and really enjoying the entire week. But, clearly, I messed up with #3. I thought, “if he was parented better, he would be able to enjoy the entire time at VBS with all the others.”
I talked to his little three year old self for the next few hours, on and off, and brought up the idea of “good behavior” “Listening to Ms. Amy” and “sitting down when the others do” until I realized, I was disciplining him, hours later, because I was mortified. At one point, after his nap that day, I said, “Luke, you HAVE to do what Ms. Amy tells you to do, like all the other boys and girls,” when he looks up at me with his big blue eyes, a huge smile crosses his face and he says, “Ok Mommy. Sorry.” ((SMILE…SHOULDER SHRUG…WINK))
I stopped. This was becoming an ego thing, all about me. He was doing what he could and had already forgotten all about it. I had made a simple situation (My child was just not ready for a structured environment for three straight hours), into a story about ME! Anything he did or didn’t do, turned into a reflection of what kind of parent I was, and it did NOT have to be so.
I’m not going to lie, I did sulk for a while that day, but I had to pull myself up, dust myself off, and was determined to help my kid cope without burdening the VBS volunteers.
The next few days, I dropped him off so he could learn what a fun structured morning felt like, and turned right back around one hour later, to pick him up. He could do ONE hour, just not three. God Bless Ms. Amy and the director (whom I eventually did converse with) for trying to keep this active three year old boy focused and attentive for hours that week!
How tied are YOU to your child’s behavior? Isn’t it difficult to separate their behavior and our ego? Should we take responsibility for EVERY decision our kids make? Does everything they do, reflect us and our parenting? Next time your child makes a less-than-perfect decision, ask yourself if this just a kid being a kid? A teenager acting with a brain that is not fully developed? And then try to separate your ego from their childlike decisions.
Who learned more that week of VBS? Me.