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Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Learning to SOAR

Last night at 4:00 am while the city of Newton slept, I was watching my 3 year old flop around like a fish out of water on the kitchen floor.  I had the choice of going back to bed and letting him throw his tantrum alone or wait it out with him.  While I was waiting, I was reminded of a phrase from a book I recently finished.  "Put yourself in her place."  This phrase sounds so simple, but in the book,  Learning to Fly by Roxanne Henke, it was put into a context that made you think about your reactions to your children. It is hard to think clearly in the dark of the night, especially when your son is screaming over the color of his cup, but before I let my mind go black like the night I thought to myself, "put yourself in his place."  It was dark and late.  For an unknown reason he woke up from a deep sleep and wanted a drink.  I know that Bryce does not like waking up and  is a groggy morning person like his mommy.  I also know that he has bad dreams sometimes and is afraid of the dark. Why would I expect my 3 year old to be able to accurately describe what he needs and wants under these circumstances? With all of this in mind, I pushed away my sleepiness and picked up the suffocating fish from the floor and gave him a choice of two cups.  He immediately calmed down, chose a yellow cup (because the pink one was girly), drank his water, and went back to bed. 

 I randomly chose "Learning to Fly"  because with a quick glimpse I could tell it was about parenting. At the time I was looking for a new book both kids were running around the library trying to hide within the stacks and I knew if I didn't choose quickly we would soon be over staying our welcome. I grabbed the book from the shelf not knowing what the next 3 weeks of pages had in store for me.

14 pages in and I was hooked.  Here was this new mother holding her newborn  baby girl wondering what the hell she was going to do next.  The book follows this mother through each stage of parenting-from infant years to college years-and shares the struggles and successes of each stage.  The mother in the book received one piece of advice from her roommate in the hospital the day her daughter was born:  "Put yourself in her place."  As I read the book I was able to specifically think of times that I did not put myself in my kids' place and consequently probably did not react in a way that would guide my children how to react better.

The book continues on into the awkward middle school years and the peer pressure years of high school.  Some of the situations the daughter in the book described struck a memory in my mind and took me back to my teenage years. 

My past insecurities crept up my spine and haunted me as I read and understood what the characters were feeling:  choosing between right and wrong, longing to fit in with the popular crowd, wishing your conscience would take a hike, and feeling left out when making the right decision.  Being a teenager is hard but the mother in this book always thought back to the advice that was given to her in her hospital room.  She used this advice along with a balance of adult guidance and rules to raise an independent young adult who was ready to go off on her own by the end of the book. 

This made me think about the arguments I had with my parents while I was growing up.  They thought it was good to give me a curfew of 11:30.  They made me wake them up when I got home at night.  They even made me tell them who I was going to be with and where we were going (gasp!).  Through screams and tears I swore they didn't understand what it was like to be a teenager.  Now that I look back, they did understand, which is why they were so strict with me.  It's funny how in 10 years you can go from thinking your parents don't know anything to realizing they actually had some brains in them.  It's sad seeing old classmates and acquaintances that still act like teenagers 12 years after graduating high school, which makes me thankful for curfews and known whereabouts. 

At age 29 I will eagerly say THANK YOU mom and dad for being so strict with me.  If it weren't rules, regulations, and you teaching me compassion, empathy, and guiding my faith I wouldn't have turned out as good as I did.  And I think I turned out alright. :) 

Now I face the challenge of being the same mean and unfair parent to Cailyn and Bryce.  I can't wait!

"Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old he will not depart from it."
                                                                                                                    -Proverbs 22:6

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