May 4, 2016 11:36pm (Scott)
Plates are served as quickly as can be; Maya’s first, then the parents and Lincoln. We all finally sit down and take in a long, grateful breath. That’s when I look across the table and see the three year old emptying her water cup into her pink princess dinner plate and turning her fresh, carefully prepared meal into a murky, questionable soup.
I stand up, calmly envisioning the parent I want to be, and explain that’s unacceptable behavior while I pour excess water off her plate into the kitchen sink. I explain Mommy has worked hard to give us this nice dinner and you’ve treated it like a toy before you even tasted it. As I continue to express my disappointment, she begins tapping her bulbous little kid spoon on the table, which she knows makes me insane. I change my approach and threaten to take the spoon away. She raises it ever so slowly above her head, maintains eye contact with a purpose, and brings it ever so carefully down to the table for just one more tap.
The rest is history. She lost the spoon, and the food, then there was talking, debate, deals were made, food was consumed in smaller amounts than we’d like, and we moved on to the next stage of the crazy video game that is an evening with little kids.
In some fleeting moment of clarity amidst the relative chaos, I realized that, however contrary it is to my instincts, stubbornness might be a thing to be revered in children. Stubbornness is what drives us to find a better way, to overcome adversity in all forms despite long odds, and to keep pushing in spite of pain or exhaustion toward an unrelenting goal. Stubbornness leads us to explore the unknown despite our fears… in fact stubbornness may be the opposite of fear or at least such a critical component of courage that one would not exist without the other.
Stubbornness endures cold nights, meager portions, and the darkest of times. Every story of survival floats on the undercurrents of stubborn attitudes fueling an unwavering pursuit of faithful vision–the fact that we can survive is the very reason that we will.
At the table, in this moment of frustrated, attempted parenting, the thought that set me at ease is that we ought to be thankful that our children are stubborn. It’s a critical component of character. Maybe it’s not our role as parents to eliminate stubbornness from our kids (if that’s even possible). Maybe it is our role to shape it, to help our children develop some control over a force that may save their lives or help them save others.
I’m glad to know Maya is stubborn — even though it drives me nuts more often than not. But she has the raw materials to accomplish near whatever she chooses. Her parents are stubborn and we’re all blessed with a community surrounding us with stubbornness to spare –a community that would do near anything to provide support.
We’ve been doing as well as anyone could hope. This week brought us back to reality with a glimpse of just how quickly things can change. It was, I think, a small bump in the road, and I have faith we will be back up to cruising speed next week. Thank you for your comments, thoughts, and prayers.