Friday, June 4, 2010

The Mountains and Valleys of Parenting

Oh boy! What a day we've had, and it's only 1:30pm.

I would like to dispel the "terrible two's" myth. A two-year-old is great. A three-year-old, on the other hand, is a bit of a challenge. Since his illustrious Three-Year-Old Toy Story Birthday Party, my son has grown not only in size, but has doubled in WILL. It's incredible, really. I consider myself to be pretty seriously stubborn, but this kid is working hard to help me meet my match.

Ephraim is going to be in my cousin's wedding this month. We are flying up to Tennessee near the end of June, and he will serve as the ringbearer. I'm praying he'll be cute and obedient and "steal the show" in a good way... unlike the way he created a show today.

We went to the Men's Wearhouse for his fitting. It was just Ephraim and me. Quincy stayed home with Aspen. I foolishly thought, "We'll run in and do that, swing by Wal-Mart, and be home in an hour." Silly woman. We walked into the store and trotted to the back for the fitting. The fella at the store was putting the data in the computer, and things seemed to be going just fine... until... this young man dared to say to my son, "Hey Ephraim, come here buddy, let's try on this jacket." Ephraim's response, "NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" This was followed by collapsing on the floor and subsequently into my arms for a series of "I can't's." Uh. What?. So I spent the next FORTY-FIVE minutes pulling out everything in my bag of tricks. I started with hugging and reassuring. "Ephraim, this is fun. You're gonna get a costume, like your Buzz Lightyear and Woody costumes. This one is like a SPY COSTUME!" Ephraim said, "I DON'T WANT ONE!" (Thank You God that no one else was in the store. This was embarrassing enough with the 6 workers. Why are there 6 workers in an empty Men's Wearhouse on a Friday morning, by the way?) I tried taking him over to the fancy 5-way mirror to see himself. He, of course, was not pleased with this either. Every time I would get him to stop screaming for a second, he would completely flip out again as soon as I said the dirty words, "Are you ready to get measured now?" The Men's Wearhouse fella came over to try to help. I was sitting with Ephraim in the back corner, trying to talk him down from the cliff, when the man said, "Well Mom, why don't we go ahead and get you measured?" My response "Uh, I'm not in the wedding, and why would I wear a tux anyway?" HAHAHAH! The man gave me a silly look and hand gesture that said, "go along with me, lady." OH! "Yes, go ahead. Measure me first." I go through the 5-second ritual with the guy, and I'm done. Ephraim screams throughout the process. Trickster fail. I then ask the man if I can measure him myself. "Sure! No problem." He hands me the tape. Guess what? Ephraim is falling over, writhing, wiggling, and fighting with every ounce of his strength to not be measured. The first measurement is around the neck, so although I kind of did want to strangle him, I didn't want to do it with witnesses! ha :) (Dear DCF, This statement is said completely in jest.)

I am TOTALLY fed up at this point. I ask for directions to the bathroom. Ephraim and I go into the bathroom where I first tried calling Quincy. I knew that if I just unleashed myself on my son at that moment, it would not be good. I figured I'd get some outside wisdom from another person with a vested interest in the manchild. Quincy's not answering the phone. I call again, and again, and again. No answer. He texted me while I was in the store, so surely his phone is not that far away. Then again, how long have we been here now? So now I'm doubly ticked. The kid is a maniac. Quincy's ignoring my calls. I text some 4-letter words to my husband. HA! (Shame on me, and Lord forgive me!) He responds immediately with "Uh, ok. My phone's upstairs and on silent. What's up with the cursing?" He calls me. I'm telling him everything that's going on and try to get Ephraim to talk to him on the phone. Ephraim sits on his hands so as not to receive the phone from me! AAAAAAAAAAAHHHHH! I can't get the speakerphone to work for some reason. Everything is falling apart. I'm totally losing it! Quincy and I talk for a few minutes, I administer some discipline to Ephraim and get him calmed down, and then ask that horrid question again, "Are you ready to get measured?" "NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" I give up. I decide to leave and try again later. I waltz out of the bathroom with my little maniac and tell the folks at Men's Wearhouse that we'll just have to try later. I apologize for the store volume for the last 45 minutes, and they all smile and laugh knowingly, one of them saying, "Don't worry about it. We all have kids." As we are walking out the door, Ephraim asks, "Can we go play with the firetruck?" (This is one of the toys that is apparently used at Men's Wearhouse to bribe children into obedience. It did not work on my son.) I respond, "No, you cannot play with the firetruck. You were not obedient, so you do not get a reward. We're going home."

We get into the van and head home. I'm on the phone with Quincy explaining how things ended, and telling him that he really needs to deal with our son when we get home because I am so upset, angry, and embarrassed, that I'm going to say or do something ugly. Quincy talked to Ephraim on the speakerphone on the way home. We get into the driveway, where Quincy meets us and gets Ephraim. I walked inside, sat on the couch, and began to cry. I haven't had Ephraim be quite this ugly to me yet. Hello, new world of discipline!

Quincy and Ephraim came inside. Ephraim sees me crying and is visibly shaken. He tells me he is sorry for hurting my feelings and being disobedient. He's crying now, in a repentant manner. I am still pretty upset though. Quincy took him upstairs to his room and talked with him for awhile, and then told him he needed to spend some time in his room. Quincy came back downstairs and told me that Ephraim was really upset and sorry for what he'd done. I felt only slightly better knowing that. In addition to the behavior, I was upset that "he won." He didn't get fitted. I did not have the time to stay there all day in that battle. I ate lunch and decided that before Ephraim could do anything else, he would go back to the store and get fitted.

After a little while, Ephraim wanted to be released from his prison. Quincy had agreed to return to the store with us. We talked to him and told him that he needed to make right his wrong before he could do anything else, including lunch. He said he was ready to be fitted. We did a practice fitting with him at home and gave him a pep talk. We went straight from his room back into the van, back to the Men's Wearhouse. He asked for food and a piece of candy on the way. I reminded him that he had to make things right first before we could move on from that.

Men's Wearhouse, take 2. Ephraim was a pleasant, obedient child. He was measured without incident. Before leaving, without prompting, he boldly told the man who had helped us earlier, "I'm sorry for being ugly." REDEMPTION! I was SO proud of my little man. It is hard to correct our wrongs, and even harder to apologize. He apologized to me several times, saying, "Momma, I'm sorry I hurt your feelings. I'm sorry for being disobedient." I assured him that he was forgiven, that I would always love him, and that I was very proud of him for making things right. I told him that I knew how hard it was to go back and make things right after I'd messed up, and how humbling it was to apologize. I praised his bravery in doing both. I reminded him that it was important that we did those things right away, and that any time we mess up, we should try to correct our mistakes immediately. This is important to us because it's God's plan for us, our own hearts, and our relationships with others. I HOPE he remembers this lesson. And I am praying that the whole ringbearer situation bears the fruit of it! :)

This day just affirms that parenting is just as much about refining the parent as it is about training the child. Thanks for the lesson, Lord. I'd prefer an easier one next time.

Everyone says forgiveness is a lovely idea, until they have something to forgive. (C.S. Lewis) Or to be forgiven for. (Jennifer Richardson)

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Daily Makings

Recently, I asked Ephraim if he'd like to go play at the park. He responded by saying, "No Mom, I think I'd rather just make a craft." So, I figured I'd share what he meant. We basically make something every day. I like to let him do most of the work. He's learned how to use glue and glitter, scissors and tape. He goes crazy with markers and is not a huge fan of crayons. He realizes that markers are obviously far superior.

So here are some of our most recent creations. He does great work!

We made this "Rock Collection Jug" a couple days ago. Taped up the sharp edges with some electrical tape, colored on it, glued some stuff on it, and added his name. Then we went on a rock-hunting adventure. I remember my mom making something like this with me when I was younger. I believe it was for seashells for a Marine Science Center Field Trip. Good times!

Here's another view. :)

We do NOT throw things away (until we have sufficiently created from them and destroyed them. ha!). This was yesterday's box of Huggies. Now a castle!

Ephraim says this is Fiona up in the tallest tower!

This is our door hanger decoration! Ephraim cut lots of shapes!

Sorry the picture's so fuzzy, but we also added glued beads to one of the rectangles.

And another string just has his name. We've made lots of bracelets and necklaces from these beads. They are fun! They even glow in the dark!!!

Just so you know, Quincy's in on it too! On Saturday mornings, he and Ephraim go to either Home Depot or Lowe's for free workshops. Here are a couple of their creations.

Sweet race car!

Awesome planter! (Excuse the almost-dead plant. No one around here has a green thumb.)

They've also made a really cool catapult!

So, that's how things go around our house. What about yours?