Monday, December 31, 2012

From 2 to 4 1/2: What a Difference

My goodness. I looked at my Drew today and realized how big he is getting. Physically, he is taller and looks more like a boy--hairy legs and slender with all the baby fat gone. His legs are long and his feet are big. Mentally, his attention span is much longer. He is a critical thinker and problem solver. He plays independently very well. He is a helper to me in the biggest way possible.

Just today I was asking him if he wanted to put the (very) large load of clothes into the dryer from the washer or if he wanted me to do it. His response: "Oh, I'll do it mama so you don't have to hurt yourself and bend over." I'm not sure how old and feeble he thinks I am, but it sure was thoughtful of him. He is like that so much of the time at home. He loves to be our helper. He is right by Andrew's side if Andrew is working upstairs on our unfinished room. And whether I'm sweeping, doing dishes, vacuuming, cleaning bathrooms, or doing laundry, he is right there to help. I love his little servant heart, and I try to tell him how much I appreciate that.

I'm going to be honest with you. When Drew was about 2 years old (and on until he was 3), I spent a good bit of time in prayer and tears wondering what I might have done wrong to make my bouncing baby boy so....well, bouncy. And active. And into EVERYTHING. And testy. Oh my, he was all about testing some limits--and it was more like breaking them than testing them. He wanted to find out why these rules were in place, so he constantly took it upon himself to learn why.

 But WHY am I not supposed to chew on these?!

 Wild boy!

Why did he wanna ride in the elevator 10000 times on vacation? Because how does this thing work?!

 How do lightning bugs work?

 I wanna do what you're doing, mom!

 A very favorite pastime at 1 1/2. Pull the cords and see the fan turn on. ACTIVE!

 This was all. the. time. Using whatever he could at 1 1/2 to get what he "needed" off the counter. Drawers, overturned baskets, etc.

 Fearless at 24 months. Jumped right into that lake.

I remember asking a friend who raised 2 boys how she survived those tough, testing years. I remember her boys were lively and active years earlier and had since grown into young gentlemen. What was her secret to changing them and coming out with any hair left on her head?

Her response: "Make it until he's 5. You'll see a world of difference." 

That was not the news a mom of an only 2 year old wanted to hear, but you know what? She was so right. Certainly time was not the only factor (and I know she would agree as well); patience, discipline, consistency, and more patience played large roles. But a new mom does not realize how huge of a role maturity plays, and how much it can flourish in just a few short years.

Raising Drew has taught me that I have to do what is right for my son, regardless of what everyone else is doing or sees as "right." And as long as I feel confident that God is leading my parenting, I honestly don't give a second thought to what anyone else thinks anymore.

After realizing how fast this boy is growing and what an AWESOME young man he is becoming in spite of all my flaws and in spite of how testy he was at the beginning, I just want to encourage any other mom out there and say, "Hold on! Keep up your good work. It is NOT in vain!" Don't resort to crazy ideas in parenting and discipline because your kid is different than others in some way. Have patience, be consistent, and so very prayerful about how you are training the heart of your child. Hugs to you, mama. You are playing a HUGELY important role in this child's life and it will NOT be for naught. As s/he grows, you'll see how those traits that tested you so much in the earlier years are actually a gift! They will be characteristics or personality traits that this child may build on the rest of his life.

Now that we're a few years out, I can clearly see why Drew:
--tested the limits of every rule
--didn't stay with us in social situations
--got into everything
--took things apart

Because now he:

--constantly asks "why" to everything. Not to be disrespectful, but because he wants to know. And we hardly ever say, "Because I said so." Why? Because the child wants to understand. If you want Drew to know not to touch the hot faucet, you explain heat and burns and treatment for burns. If you don't want him jumping on the bed, you explain how he can fall, his his head on the corner, have to go to the ER and get a shot/stitches, etc. He just really needs to know why those rules are in place.

--doesn't meet a stranger. No wonder he would run off in large groups. The world is his BFF. He's fearless! He doesn't have a shy bone in his body.

--is naturally curious. A lot like Curious George. He means no harm (usually he means well!), but sometimes his curiosity can create a mess. (Take, for example, when he attempts to clean my toilets for me but gets toilet water everywhere or when he decided to dust one day for me, but used a Lysol wipe on my delicate furniture. He means well!)

--wants to know how things work. It's no surprise he took things apart as a child. He wants to know what makes them "tick." For example, he really doesn't care much about the animals at the zoo, but he loves their hands-on compost bin. He can look inside the glass part, see how the ingredients spin, and find out exactly how it works. He loves his pool, but he really loves learning about the pump and filter and how they keep the pool clean.

All the things that made him a little more difficult than most as a child were the exact reasons he is so awesome today! I love this kid's desire to learn, his critical thinking and problem solving. Just a few minutes ago, he was playing with play-doh. He needed help opening a jar. I told him to clean the playdoh off his feet and bring the jar to me. Well, he couldn't get all the playdoh off his feet, so he fixed that problem: he simply pulled his pajama pants half way down his legs so the pants covered his feet. Then he waddled in here across my carpet with covered feet so my carpet didn't get messy! Of course, he didn't think about the playdoh getting on his pants, but oh well! The carpets stayed clean. :)

I am so, so, SO thankful for this boy. He has been my biggest challenge at times, but also my greatest blessing at times. He's taught me so much, allowed me to grow in my confidence as a mom and person, and look on others with more grace. He is my friend, my buddy. We go on dates together to the movies and out to eat. We snuggle in the mornings in my bed and he rubs my hair. He asks to snuggle and drink hot chocolate and watch a movie. I just love his sweet heart. God is going to do great things with this boy, and I could not be more thankful to be a part of his life. I look forward to seeing how God is going to take these same traits listed above and continue using them. Now if someone could just put a brick on his head and stop him from growing for a while, that'd be great!

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