Friday, July 22, 2011
All Grown Up
I was reading a blog yesterday about a young woman who had a troublesome day with her two year old. She linked to another blog with another woman who'd had a troublesome day with her little boy as well. I was amused and went to the comments section to leave an encouraging word, but many others had been there before me. Most all of them had small children and they told of their bad days. I read, and I laughed, and I commiserated. I am a mom. I know.
Amie was a good baby, except for her desire to stay up ALL NIGHT LONG. She did not sleep a full night through until she was eight years old. For all that, she truly was a good child, with only two 'bad day' memories for me. There was the first day. She was two at the time. On that day, she locked me out of the car. Thankfully on a cool autumn day. When I finally convinced her to unlock the door it was because she had to go potty. And so did I. While I was in the bathroom she snitched my house key and lost it. Forever. Never to be found. Conscious that we had to run our errand to a distant city, I prayed over the unlocked door, pulled it shut behind me and asked the Good Lord to watch over our household.
We drove to a city some 50 miles away to a big bank downtown. We rode the elevator up to the fourth floor. Amie was fascinated. Push a button and up we go! Such fun. I promised her we'd take another ride shortly and handed my paper work to a secretary on the floor who indicated a bench against the wall next to the elevator and told us to please wait...So we sat down and Amie amused herself trying to push the button to make the machine open up for another ride. Only she couldn't quite reach it. So she used the handy little handle next to the button to pull herself up. It happened to be the fire alarm.
Do you want to know how quickly a four story bank can spew customers and employees onto pavement? Or how quickly the city fire trucks responded? Or how I hid out around the corner with a very red face while the secretary, who was much amused, brought firemen, bosses and fellow employees around the corner to look at the little girl who'd done all this in an innocent moment?
And the second bad day was the day she left my house to move in with her father. It wasn't a good choice and I knew it, but he was her father. For two years I barely saw her though I wrote and called and asked friends about her. She lived just two miles away but it was a rough two years for me. As it turned out for her, too. One day she came home and she didn't leave again until she was 20.
But she's all grown up now...
And then there was Samuel who was 'quite a handful' and about whom I was told time and again I needed to talk to the doctor 'and see if there isn't a pill to calm him down." Samuel who was a regular Houdini at six months and could wiggle, squirm and unfasten any type of restraint on car seat, shopping buggy, etc. At nine months I found him sitting atop the upright piano in the living room. And a week later it was the top of the refrigerator in the kitchen. A very poor kitchen that didn't have even a counter next to the fridge, so how he managed to get to the top was a total mystery.
At 18 months he ran away from home with a fat puppy under one arm and a kitten under the other and walked through an acquaintance's screen door 3 blocks away. And at 19 months he was off again and nearly gave the neighbor a block away a heart attack when she looked out her kitchen window into her six foot tall fenced, locked backyard to see a toddler sitting on the end of her diving board. By the time he was 2 every neighbor within hearing distance opened their door and started looking for him if I called his name more than twice.
Samuel convinced the neighbor boy to remove his training wheels from his tiny bike at age three. When said neighbor boy came running indoors to tell me that Samuel was riding up the street, I was out the door just in time to watch him fly over the handlebars and bust his head open on the pavement. At four, he walked innocently enough into the house one warm Spring afternoon. And moments later a raving lunatic of an elderly woman came right on in without knocking and proceeded to upbraid him. When I came out of the kitchen in a hurry to see what the commotion was all about I found her standing in front of him holding a handful of what appeared to be wilted weeds...which were in fact the remains of the morning's planting of tomato and eggplants. And here I'd thought she truly was a lunatic, but no, she was just mad as a wet hen and who could blame her? Those are just a few days to recall. We won't talk about the other hair raising, dare devil, out and out bad little boy stunts he pulled.
Those days didn't end soon. He kept up his bad boy tactics until he was 15 and then suddenly he changed. He became a really good kid, one to be proud of. A good friend laughed the day he told her recently,"It was a good day the days Mama didn't cry. I made Mama cry most every day." She thought he was kidding, but he wasn't. I did cry nearly every day over that boy.
But he grew up.
Then JD came into my life. At 15 he was mostly grown, but he'd been through a tough time and was emotionally hurt. I worried myself ill over him while he insisted on living in a dark room and did nothing but lie abed for nearly a full year, until he began to act more teen-like and learned to drive. Then I lay awake nights worrying lest he was hurt when he should have been home from work two hours before. He joined the Navy and I worried still more because correspondent that son of mine is not. But he grew up.
And then there was Katie. Katie came to the world with a lot to say and she started saying it the moment she met me in person, lol. She cooed and oohed and ahed and chattered away non-stop from the day of her birth and for nearly 18 years after. She was smart and more grown-up than the two I'd raised from scratch, no doubt due to having three older kids around. She knew they were children and she was a child, therefore saw no reason why she should be different from them. Katie got a lot of attention, a lot of spoiling and truly had an easier time of it in some ways than the others and not so much in other ways.
At 2 my plain speaking child told the doctor that she'd answer his questions but she didn't speak very well yet as she was only two. Which made the doctor laugh heartily because he'd known Katie almost since birth, too and she'd been talking a very long time at that point. At four, she read the street signs and billboards to me everyday on our commute to her nursery school and my job. She could remember whole scenes from commercials and movies and quote them word for word, too. At five, when she was asked what she'd like to be when she grew up my youngest replied without forethought, "The boss. 'Cause right now there are too many people telling me what to do." She needed lots of attention this one and demanded it if it wasn't given. She took justly earned punishments without a tear and roared loudly over unjust. By the time she was 11 she was telling me the punishments she felt she deserved for rule infractions and she was usually pretty well on the mark, too.
Most of Katie's reports from school were good ones, but always always always was one continual complaint from every single teacher: "She talks too much." It got so that we'd introduce ourselves to her teachers. "Hi we're the Cheneys, Katie's parents. And yes, we know, she talks too much but besides that how is she doing?" lol When we went to Middle School to meet the teachers Katie took the bull by the horns. "Don't tell the teachers I talk too much right off the bat. I want a chance to turn over a new leaf." And she did try. I can't say we had much trouble out of her other than the standard complaint.
She had a pretty rotten summer the year before her senior year in high school. She made a silly teen-aged sort of decision and gave us a good scare one night, but the moment she realized things were not going well she called us right up. A sound decision that was and she didn't get punished because we knew she'd had a good scare too. And then she got ill and stayed ill for months on end with a relaspe of mono. She barely managed to get through senior year she was ill so often but she pushed hard and kept her grades high and rested every single second she could, sometimes sleeping right there in the classroom. We worried a lot that year.
But she grew up.
And you'd think, "Well they all grew up, so her worries have ended." You'd be wrong. Because there's seldom a week goes by that one of my grown up children isn't nursing a hurt, a worry, a concern, wrestling with life over hard choices that must be made. I spent a lot of time in prayer over those children when they were growing but now they are all grown up, I've gone to my knees nightly on their behalf. They may be all grown up and most live a good distance away, but their hurts hurt me, and their worries concern me and my heart is forever tied up with theirs. They're all grown up, you see.
The bad days they had as children were nothing to the things that concern them now. It's so easy to smooth over a raspberry on a scraped knee or to encourage rest when they have a bad cold. It's easy enough to put them to bed early as a punishment when they are small because you have simply had ENOUGH and must have a break from parenting a two-, four-, ten-, sixteen-year old, but it's a lot harder when they suffer their first heartbreak and you must find the right words to encourage and heal and mend. It's harder when they call you weeping because the doctor's prognosis is bad and there's not a thing you can do but fall right to your knees and pray for them and with them. It's hard when their children are lost or hurt and you can't be there to hold their hand and give them your strength. It's hard when they experience grown up hurts at an age that hardly seems grown-up.
Do you know why we have these 'bad days' when they are little? To build our strength, to build our reserves of prayer to see them through. They are all grown up you see.