Our case of the “I wants”

I’ve learned something important about my oldest over the last year. He pushes his limits so hard until we come to an all out authority battle, and then he backs off and we have wonderful peace in our relationship for awhile.

I hear a rumbling in the distance. The not-too-far distance, I might add.

When he was 15 months old he got mad about something. I don’t even remember what it was, but I remember it distinctly as the day we officially hit the terrible twos. I had to put him in a time out. He screamed at me as though I tried to kill him. Not knowing if he really understood, I told him to sit on the couch in his time out until he could stop screaming at me. He, on his own, sat there for an hour and a half. Screaming. Then he stopped, and he was done with his fit. We snuggled and didn’t clash again for like two weeks.

It’s like he has to make himself heard with the most impact he possibly can, and then he realizes his limits and is totally fine with them.

Our current struggle is the “I wants.” These are not materialistic “I wants,” though. They’re control ones. This happened the other day:

Me: Micah, please don’t touch your feet while you’re eating.
Micah: I just want to touch my feet while I eat. I JUST WANT TO!

And this:
Micah: Mommy, can you play steam engine with me?
Me: yes, after I nurse Norah.
Micah: I don’t want you to nurse Norah. I want you to put her on the floor and I will be the engine and you will be the caboose and we will go really fast on the tracks. And I dont want you to go slow.

He wants or doesn’t want something all the time. It doesn’t matter what it is, as long as it’s contrary to what I’ve said.

I read this blog the other day written from a toddler’s perspective. It was a letter written to Dad, and it said something along the lines of, “the real question is, Who does mommy belong to?”
I laughed and then I realized that was probably written by Micah. He would have no trouble telling anyone that Mommy is in charge of the house. But I think he would also try to say that he is in charge of Mommy.

And so our battle begins.

I lost my patience big time over popcorn tonight. Dumbest thing ever, and I feel terrible for it, but it made me realize I need a battle strategy. Davy and I prayed about it tonight, and I’m already starting to think of some hard questions to ask myself.

1. How many times do I say I want him to do something? Do I ask him with respect?
2. At what point does my dialogue with him over something turn into arguing with him, as opposed to talking it through and bringing him through to obedience?
3. In the same token, what is the balance between being firm about obedience and listening to hear his thoughts and desires about a particular situation?
4. What’s the process I should take in discipline over his attempt to control or talk back so that I don’t act out of frustration?
5. Why does it take me so long to realize that my son’s challenging me is part of God’s refining plan in my life? Why do I have to completely lose my patience first?

I want to have a plan for this upcoming battle, and I want to be changed and refined by the Lord so that I can respond with grace and mercy in the heat of it. Too often I find myself looking at my son with agitation instead of tenderness. It makes me sad to think that that could be portrayed to him through my voice, body language, and attitude. I always try to keep long term in perspective – I don’t want to regret this time with him, these terrible twos. I want to look back and know I sowed the hard seed, that I invested even when it was challenging. And I want to sow that into him too – we work through our problems together, communicating and treating each other with love, respect, grace, and kindness.

I think making popcorn is in our plans for tomorrow.

2 comments on “Our case of the “I wants”

  1. i think you should post this on facebook! all other moms would benefit from this disucussion.

    i really like question #1, and i feel like i can apply it to life outside of motherhood. it’s easy to get upset with someone for the way they talk or judge others, only to realize that i talk the same way/ am judging them for judging! what in the world! anyways, this kind of self-reflection and humility is what makes you such a great mom. good work, kim.

    • Thanks kristin! I’m realizing that I often expect my words to be respected immediately, so by extension Micah uses the same language and expects the same thing I do. Yikes. The line between child and parent has to be drawn, obviously, but I want to do so in a way that shows I do still value him and his opinions. I also have to show that when our expectations clash, mine has to be respected more. It’s so tricky because I want him to feel the freedom and respect in our home to express his opinions – mine shouldnt squash his, but mine still retain more authority. But, in the same token, they can be changed if challenged reasonably and respectfully. Eesh.

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