I don’t normally read the funnies from the paper. I don’t know why, I used to be a very loyal reader and especially on Sunday, but I have gotten out of the habit of reading the paper and I have been trying to change that lately. I mean, really, I pay for it, and the poor newspaper person has to deliver it at o’dark thirty in the morning just to cater to me, the paying customer. So I should at least read what I spend my money on, even if it is all nothing but bad news.
The other day, Family Circle had a cartoon where the kids are looking up at a group of birds flying in the v-formation and the little girl says “The bird in the front must have the map”. I let out a little chuckle about it. And then I sobered up. My thoughts went towards my little circles of people around me: my family, my friends, my church, and people I am trying to make friends with.
I feel like I am always the one in the front, but I don’t have a map and sometimes it feels like nobody is following me, either in a straight line or a v-formation. Then other times it feels like they are following too close and the burden is way too much and I want to dump it all on someone else’s shoulders. Of course, then I can’t complain if someone else is leading and I don’t like where they are going.
But, back to the map, as a parent, I am constantly searching for a map, a guidebook, anything to show me the way. The Bible says “Children, obey your parents in all things: for this is well pleasing unto the Lord.” Colossians 3:20. I obey my mother and I am an example for my daughter, always, in this situation. But as for my 7 year old, how do I teach her to obey me? I can tell her that God says it is pleasing to Him. Then she wants to know if she can see Him. I tell her he is all around, and in her heart. And it’s a concept she doesn’t grasp now. I know she will when she is older, but for now, how do I instill in her obedience? The guidebook feels like there are pages missing and everything is vague.
I know it’s not just me. I see my friends struggling with the same issues, and we are all trying to deal with it in different ways and nothing seems to be working. We try to support each other and back each other up and sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. I have too many rules and other moms don’t have as many rules. I say that rear end needs to sit flat on the chair when you are eating your meal. Another mother says oh she does that all the time. Okay, well I’m trying to teach my child to do that, and another mom isn’t. So my child sees the other not doing it and reverts back to her behaviors.
At the same time, I’m not enforcing rules on my child such as clean your room every night. I can tell her until I am blue in the face to clean up her room and throw away the trash. And it is all wasted breath. I threaten to take away the favorite toys… the tv in room, the computer, the wii, the nintendo and the dvd player. All with no results. Even no playdates or sleepovers. I follow through on my threats too. I have taken away privileges for weeks on end and it is still the same. I have taken out bags of toys and put in storage, and still the same behavior prevails.
I’m not the best housekeeper in the world, but I do try to keep some semblance of order in the house, so I can understand a little laziness in the cleaning up department, but I do take time out to put things away and I know she sees me doing it. Why is it that children seem to only imitate bad behavior and not the good behavior? For instance, in language or social interaction with others. Just because another kid is hitting you doesn’t mean you can turn around and hit someone else. Or because you overhear your best friend’s daddy drop a 4 letter word in casual conversation doesn’t mean you have to repeat it.
Another problem I am having is going to bed at a decent hour at night. Granted, I’m not the best role model for that one. I have trouble sleeping at night, plus that’s when I get a lot of things done that I can’t do during the day. Lately, my daughter has been staying up past midnight. She can’t sleep, she says. She is sooooo like me…. afraid she is going to miss some opportunity to play, or hear something good. I am dreading when school starts back (in a little over 3 weeks) and I have to start really enforcing the bed time at 9:00 rule.
I’m a single mom, and I don’t have a regular backup onsite, so to speak, to give me that edge of an authority. I am always struggling with resenting the idea that I am always the bad guy and having to make her do things to keep order and sanity in my life and in her life.
I don’t want to be in front anymore. I need to keep studying my Bible, and reflecting on the Word, then maybe that will give me the confidence and courage to keep flying up front and being the example that I should be not only for my child, but for my friends and their children also.