Monday, October 12, 2015

Strong Willed Children

I've been re-reading this book, or listening I suppose. I listen to the audio book & then grab my hard copy & highlight it to death. The objective was that I was going to reread it & highlight all the key parts for my husband to have a quick go-over.. The problem with a great book is that sometimes you feel the need to highlight the whole darned thing. I've resisted, but it's always tempting.

This is just one of those books where you wish you'd had it from the beginning. Or maybe not, because you're totally different then me. It's a book I'd love to have known about 10 years ago when my own SWC showed me that it really didn't matter what consequence was coming his way. He was his own person & nothing was going to change that.

It's not that I had a problem with him being his own person, not a bit. I had bigger fish to fry. Like the whole staying in bed situation, or potty training, or.. & as he got older things got crazier. The thing about well meaning mammas, especially those who love Jesus & want their children to follow suit is that they often believe every misstep or unwarranted look means that their child's heart is in the very wrong place.

Now don't get me wrong, I know that the Bible tells us that where our treasure is there our heart is also. Or that the words & thoughts stem from the heart. I'm very well acquainted with verses that discuss the overflow of the heart into our lives. Here's the thing though, you can have an amazingly wilful child who's heart is on fire for Jesus. I know it goes against everything you've ever heard from some pretty big names in the Christian parenting world, but it's still true.

That's the secret I wish I'd known years & years ago. I remember the day I looked at my husband & started crying because my SWC's feet could be heard upon the floor. We saw some pretty big changes in our SWC when we removed some food issues from his daily diet. They are still big triggers for him, but the person he is on the inside.. the one who makes me think what a great lawyer or politician he'd make is always there. If you have an SWC you know exactly what I'm talking about. That glint they get in their eye when you say, "Stop stomping so loudly.." & they proceed to stomp, but at a much quieter level. After all, they did comply with what you asked. You didn't ask them to stop stomping, you asked them to stop stomping so loudly..

Yep, we still have those types of days. Here's the thing though, I've learned to smile through them. A few years ago I went to bed after shouting at my SWC who then in turn burst into tears & said, "You always shout at me I don't think you even love me!" He ran & hid under the quilt in his room while I stood in the middle of the house bawling like a big baby. He heard me crying & came running back screaming & started hugging me begging me to stop crying, but the thing was he was still so mad at me that he ran back to his bed again & hid back under the covers where we heard him scream in absolute frustration. I still feel guilty & tear up thinking about that horrible day.

You know, I don't even remember what was so horrible that I shouted at him. I don't. I just remember going to bed completely dejected & feeling like that loser Mom who's child will most likely hate her for the rest of his life.. you know, if he doesn't turn out to be a total hooligan & in trouble with the law. I was that kinda low & horrible feeling. I feel asleep crying out for help, for me to understand my kid better.

It was a defining moment for me. I wasn't asking for my kid to be changed or act differently then he did. I wasn't asking for him to have this miraculous "come to Jesus I'll never be bad again in my whole life.." thing. I just wanted to understand him right where he was. I wanted to salvage my relationship with him. Crazy, huh? My kid was all of 9 & I was terrified I was ruining my relationship.

Before you laugh at me about that, let me just tell you that my husband & I would go to bed every night emotionally & physically worn out. He'd walk in the door & I'd completely check-out which meant he had to completely check-in. Our kid could go from the happiest of happy to the ugliest of uglies in less time then it takes to sneeze. Our other child broke down in tears one day & said, "I just wanted this to be a happy day not a shouting day!" So yeah, I was worried. I was worried our son would be alienated from his entire family, & that my friends, drove me to my knees far quicker then anything else could.

Then I heard about this book. I was caught reading it in every spare moment I had! I'm not going to say we had instant changes, bad habits take a long time to break.. & it's funny, you know, because those bad habits were mine, not my child's.

This is my third or fourth reading. Each time I read it I'm awe struck by the similarities of the children in the book and my amazingly awesome SWC.  This is the same kid who, at age 5, spent 8 hours climbing a mountain with the rest of us. He was the youngest person on the adventure. We were probably half a kilometre from the peak when the other child with us said, "I don't think I can do it. I have to stop!" We sat down to take a break, to refuel people & gain strength for that final stretch. Not our SWC. He looked at us for about 30 seconds, turned around & started stomping right up that mountain.

He saw our break as giving in. Quitting. He didn't care if he had to climb that final portion by himself, he was going NOW. We had to chase that kid down & explain to him that no one was quitting, we were just taking a water break. He never sat down, he stood there & started counting. We told him we'd take a 5 minute break & he was determined to count off every second of those 5 minutes. The picture of him at the top of that mountain with that smile on his face. That's way more then, "We made it." That's his, "They didn't quit on me!" smile.

It was my second time reading through the book when I asked my husband for an opinion on the quiz in the front. He was happy to oblige until I asked his opinion on the scores I'd given myself. He didn't really want to answer some of the questions & I told him there was no wrong answer I needed that second opinion.

I learned something valuable that night.. My desire to die on a hill because I believe I'm absolutely right is seen by my husband as the desire to argue something into the ground just for the sake of arguing. Now in all honesty we don't fight that much at all, we disagree from time to time, but I honestly couldn't think of any time in which I'd argued for the sake or arguing.

It was really eye opening, for me, to see how others perceive how I may react to something. Not because it helps me justify to how I've reacted, but because as an SWC you really don't see what your'e doing as wrong. Seriously. I am totally opposed to rule breaking,  I don't tolerate rule breakers & I'm not afraid to tell them so, or to simply leave a situation if I feel that rules are being broken.

I still remember visiting an NFL training camp, way back when the Carolina Panthers were new to the league. We were walking around the field on our way back to the car when I overheard a couple of big beefy linebackers bad mouthing the team that I happened to follow. I stopped dead in my tracks & shouted, "That's incredibly rude!" I do not remember what the family I was with said, but I remember the 2 men stopping & coming over to apologise & admit they shouldn't have bad-mouthed fellow players or teams.

For me, I don't even see the value in arguing for something that doesn't make sense to me. I'll often say, "Well if you feel that way fine. To each his own.." But if you tell me I'm wrong & you haven't got anything to back that up with, you better believe I'm going to take that to the cleaners. Which is why, I probably shouldn't be the least bit surprised that my own SWC is exactly the same way.

Rule breaking offends him on a deep & personal level. Not sticking up for people is like slapping him in the face. He tells us, often, that we should just get rid of him, but deep down he's petrified we'll actually take him seriously. I often say, "I don't get rid of things I love, you're stuck with me forever Mate!" He'll frown until a smile takes over & then move on with life.

I'm not saying this book will change your life, because it very well may not, but what I am saying is that if you're dealing with an SWC, or you are an SWC, it might help shed light on what sets them off. It's funny, being an SWC myself you'd think I'd know, but it's not always as straightforward as you'd think.

1 comment:

Sunny Emily said...

I felt like you were writing about me!! My boys are both like this, I'll definitely be getting this book soon.
Thankyou for this honest, thought-provoking article.
God Bless you!
Emily x