Monday, August 5, 2013

on chilling out + letting nicholas be a kid

If you've ever Googled "activities for toddlers", it's almost guaranteed that you'll come across a tutorial for a "sensory bin" (which is basically a box or bowl full of fun things to touch and squish and play with.) The kids pictured are seated happily on the ground, with the sensory items (like dried beans or pipe cleaners) staying neatly in the bin. Supposedly this keeps them occupied for quite some time!

Last week was a little rainy, so I decided to come up with a fun activity for Nicholas. (After we watched lots of Netflix and he downed half a box of graham crackers.) I filled a few mixing bowls with some dried black beans and let him have at it.

It started pretty mildly.

At about the 2-minute-mark, this happened:

Which then led to this:

I grabbed a broom, and Nicholas' mini-broom, for us to sweep up the beans.
He proceeded to sweep the beans all over the house. And I mean all over.
I just had to laugh. (Probably to keep myself from crying.) There were black beans in every crevice of our tiny house, and Nicholas thoroughly enjoyed messing up my piles before I could sweep them up.

And that all happened within about 15 minutes.

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Honestly, the whole situation was pretty funny.
And it was a big reminder to me that life with kids is beautifully messy - as it's supposed to be.

Kids don't do perfect. Kids don't act and create like adults.
They laugh really loud, they hug really hard, and they make giant messes as they learn and play.
They act like kids because, well, they are kids.

When I've expected Nicholas to act or reason like an adult, I've ended up frustrated and disappointed - and he's usually pretty frustrated, too. When I put my hope in strict expectations and don't give both of us room to learn from our mistakes, home life can be pretty hairy.

But when I've taken a second to chill out, remember that Nicholas is 20 months old, and not take myself so seriously, I give Nicholas and I the chance to learn together. We end up having a lot more fun, and we make memories that don't involve him sobbing and me feeling remorseful.

I haven't "arrived" in this area whatsoever. I'm still learning as I go, praying for lots of grace and thankful that love covers a multitude of sins. And yes, there are certainly times for discipline and teaching Nicholas how to behave/respond correctly - after all, he will be an adult someday and I want to prepare him for that.

I'm just earnestly praying that the Lord will help me to parent with grace. As a good father would, God lavishes His love on us, is undyingly patient, and absolutely enjoys us in the middle of the messes we make. He teaches, guides, and disciplines all with love. I want to parent like that. I want to embrace and enjoy all the kid-ness that makes up who he is, and give him time to grow.

If you want to read a little more on enjoying your kiddos in their kid-ness, and helping them learn from their mistakes, try reading the Mindset for Moms e-book, as well as in this free devotional by Jim Daly. They've both helped me a lot, and have helped to form my ideas on this. (But no, this is not a sponsored post. Just recommending some good reads!)

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