Friday, March 18, 2016

'little greta' - and thoughts on my spirited 'littles'

Sometimes I think about "Little Greta" -- who she was, and who she grew up to be.  I think about this because I have little ones now, and I know how important childhood much it shapes us.

As a little one (in the above photo I am around the age of four) I was emotional in all respects, prone to tantrums - big outbursts seemingly coming out of no where.  I was also a smart aleck,  saying a bunch of stuff to see what kind of reactions I could get.  I loved pushing buttons.

I probably thought I was way smarter than I was.  I defiantly questioned my parents throughout my childhood, insisting they were not disciplining me correctly and that I knew better.  Needless to say, that never went over well.

I was a lot of things that probably drove my parents insane.  But - I was some pretty important (and lovely) things, too.

I was joyful and affectionate!  I loved forcing hugs upon my older sister Heidi (something I see Finola do to Cormac all the time!) and snuggling on the couch with my mom watching musicals.

I was deeply connected to Christ at a young age.  I remember being moved by the spirit often - sneaking into the church sanctuary while my dad (the pastor) was in meetings,  kneeling in front of the alter and praying with all my might!  I would spend a great deal of time in nature, learned from my very outdoorsy father, and felt profoundly connected to God in His creation.  I was also very forthright about expressing my faith.  I remember questioning even adults about things they said about religion.  (PS I don't really think adults appreciate 8-year-olds questioning their moral choices...just sayin'.)  My parents never had to worry about my faith in Christ Jesus - something I'm sure would have been hard for them.
I was tenacious and hard-working.  My parents never had to nag me to get a job or worry about me living in their basement someday.  I worked as soon as I turned sixteen to pay for anything extra I needed, moved out immediately after high school, and supported myself from then on.  I loved my independence and was good at figuring out life "on my own" -- of course, I screwed up a lot and there were many obstacles and rough patches along the way...which was where it was particularly good I had my faith in God.  

Anyway, I get it now. Mom and Dad - I really did have children "just like me" and so now I do understand some of your frustrations! Like in McD's the other day when Finola just randomly decided to sprint out the door of the play area, shrieking with laughter, and run across to the opposite side of the restaurant.  She probably would have ran out the door and into the parking lot had I not been sprinting after her at full speed!  We've had several conversations about not running away from me in public places...yet, it just isn't sinking in. She thinks it's hilarious!  She was cackling the whole time!  Despite loving to frustrate me,  Finola is also super affectionate, very dramatic, and simply loves life!  All beautiful things.  She pushes buttons and questions things, too...which I hope she continues to do.

Then there is Cormac, who will get frustrated because something really (seemingly) minuscule doesn't go right (like his piece of chocolate melts or Netflix won't connect) and will burst into tears and run throughout the house away wailing about how 'life isn't fair!'  (Yes, this really happens...and he's not even a teenager yet!)  Cormac has huge emotions!  Also, like "little Greta" he definitely prone to think he is smarter than he is.  He is constantly informing me how things will be done differently when he is an adult.  He will question us, even in the midst of discipline, and challenge all our parenting decisions.  I see how this can frustrate parents, especially parents who love to feel in control (like me!). However,  I also must mindfully choose to value his tenacity and appreciate that he will never (hopefully) be a doormat for anyone, even me.

I've decided while my kids are not pleasers, definitely not quiet and many times I feel like they are the naughtiest kids in the room...they are also very loving, very smart, and very honest.
finola gives kisses with wild abandon!
they both have a good 'lust for life' - and endless energy!
laughing with her whole heart.
So, lately I've been asking myself, before I discipline or get annoyed with my littles : is what I am saying nurturing their spirits -- or squashing them?  I don't want to ever, even in my frustration due to lack of control, extinguish that beautiful part of who they are.  I want to guard and protect and foster their spirit and enthusiasm.

I want them to know, without a doubt, that I appreciate their unique personality traits, even the frustrating ones.

Because, in the end, God-willing, little Cormac and little Finola grow up to be the adult versions...who hopefully have kept that unmistakable joy and light that I can see in them now.