Deep down, every mama knows her kiddos aren’t perfect. Some of us don’t have to dig too deep. We love them dearly, but it’s quite obvious from the clothing they “match” and their version of “cleaning up.” They’re not perfect. We know.
We can watch them fall short with good intentions. But now we’re to the age where I’m learning what it means to be raising a little person, one who, to put it honestly, sins. Sometimes unintentionally, sometimes flagrantly on purpose.
Kind of like me.
I don’t fully understand why we (specifically, I) want to have kids, but I believe at least a small part of it is a desire to see a better life. To right the wrongs and fix the misses. The dad who raises a quarterback because he missed the pass for the winning TD. The mom who harps on her kids to clean up bedrooms because she’s lost in her own inner mess. We want something better than what we’ve done and we begin to put our hopes in a child.
The attempts are centuries old and only one Mama in the world could brag that it worked (and she was too humbled to do so, probably because she never intended it in the first place). The rest of us are left to look at our little ones as they grow into this world, making decisions we don’t like, trying to steer them in the right direction yet knowing that ultimately we can’t control the outcome.
Today my little man lied to me outright in a knowing, premeditated way. Thankfully it only involved the presence of – or lack thereof – socks, but I nonetheless flipped out. That’s a character trait I simply don’t want for my children – lying. (And disrespecting. Whatever that broad generalization means).
My sister talked me down and reminded me about age-appropriate actions and his lack of ability to fully understand. I can deal with accidental shortcomings. But now he’s picking up weapons that he doesn’t realize have destructive power and is starting to play with the ammunition. He lacks intent, but he can hurt someone when he pulls the trigger. If he fires off too many rounds, someone will become his victim.
A good hunter or weapons-man doesn’t fear the gun, she respects it. She understands the power and the consequences. It doesn’t take seeing someone get shot for that lesson to sink in, does it? In the same way, we teach how words and actions carry power to hurt or to help. They’re powerful because we get to choose how to use them. And we don’t have to use fear – we can use respect.
Which means a lot more work on my part. It means following through, every time. It means doing what I say – every time. It means giving him room to explore boundaries and limits and freedom while I’m still able to wrap my arms around him and help lift the weapon, so we can get a better aim.
I don’t want him to lie to me, but more so, I don’t want him to become a liar. That happens when he doesn’t learn the responsibility that comes with freedom.
At this point, his lying does not make him a liar any more than I, in wrapping presents, am an elf. What we do does not have to define who we are. I think a good mother would not let him wallow in guilt but instead points higher: he loves people. He wants to honor them. He doesn’t like to hurt them. He won’t live out these truths if he doesn’t believe it’s who he really is and that he has the power to decide how to live.
He’s testing limits and discovering his own power in life. I suppose my job isn’t to keep him away from the tools but rather show them how to use them to help, not hurt. After I get angry I have to get to work setting the example by honoring and respecting and not fearing, if that’s what I want from him.