Has anyone else ever worried that their five-year-old might flunk out of preschool?
I'm fairly certain my family is known by every member of the faculty at my son's precious little school, and not in a "we're famous" kind of way. More in a "we're INfamous" kind of way (there's a big difference).
And his teacher. BLESS. We're only six weeks into the school year and already she's having to get...err...creative...when it comes to managing my little guy. He's disruptive. He's the class clown. He throws mulch on the playground and tries to steal toys and even participated last week in an event in the boy's restroom that led to his teacher breaking her finger.
It's good to be a Watts.
Every few weeks I hope and pray we're turning a corner with he-who-will-remain-nameless, and every few weeks I find myself disappointed. This is not to say he'll be this way forever (I know the odds are overwhelmingly great that is not true), but it is to say that I FEEL like he'll be this way forever. You all know. I've written about it before, and maybe you've felt those same feelings before about your own he-who-will-remain-nameless.
I'm creative, guys. I discipline creatively, and I discipline lovingly. I'm a pretty daggum consistent mom, and my husband is a beyond-consistent father. We try our best to shepherd his heart.
So why does life feel like a never-ending game of chess when it comes to me and him?
And why do I feel like he's winning?
Chess is a game of strategy. It requires foresight and the consideration of multiple scenarios. It requires focus and patience, and I'm starting to think I would suck at chess. Am I being outplayed by a five-year-old?
Every move I make should advance me across the board, one step closer to victory. Instead? Well, it looks a little like this.
My move: Ramp up the consequences, so that he-who-will-remain-nameless grasps the gravity of his poor choices.
His move: Engage in a nastier disposition and rebellion against consequences.
My move: Ramp up the praise, watching intently for moments when he's succeeding at life in order to call out his victories.
His move: Engage in a whole lot of not caring at all.
My move: Ramp up the rewards, giving him an M&M every time I notice him being polite or obedient or kind (yes, I am rewarding my kid with food, and yes, I'm aware that research shows it can lead to him developing an unhealthy relationship with food, and no, I don't need your input).
His move: Engage in sneaking M&Ms from the jar when I'm not looking.
And so on and so forth.
I often feel like I'm moving backward.
It's easy to feel discouraged. If I'm being honest, I question myself, my son, and the Lord daily. Am I doing something wrong (the answer is very probably yes)? Is he doing something wrong (the answer is assuredly yes)? Is God failing my son; has He forgotten him?
The thing is, chess is a long game, and in it are many pieces, most of which can move any direction on the game board. Smart people (i.e., people who play chess), know that sometimes you have move backward in order to get ahead.
What's more, God is sovereign, even in the toughest moments of parenting, and he's going to equip us as moms and dads to maneuver through each and every situation in the way that serves our children best. We're not always going to feel like we're winning, but we have to keep the end game in mind.
Ultimately, my perseverance in motherhood is directly tied to my faith that God will come through for my children, that He is who He says He is. I have to believe that He loves them more than I do and that, if I lay the groundwork, He will ultimately woo their hearts.
My move: Ramp up the truth I present to my son, consistently discipline him when he fails and praise him when he succeeds, and trust God with the rest.
His move IS BETWEEN HIM AND GOD.
Point your kids in the right direction; when they're old they won't be lost.
Write these commandments that I’ve given you today on your hearts.
Get them inside of you and then get them inside your children.
Talk about them wherever you are, sitting at home or walking in the street;
talk about them from the time you get up in the morning to when you fall into bed at night.
Tie them on your hands and foreheads as a reminder;
inscribe them on the doorposts of your homes and on your city gates.
Young people are prone to foolishness and fads; the cure comes through discipline.
I do need to celebrate my son for a moment. After weeks upon weeks of bad reports, I am proud to report that he-who-will-remain-nameless has had an excellent behavior report TWO DAYS IN A ROW! It might seem insignificant, and I know it's not much of a track record, but we celebrate the victories when we can!
Before I go, I want to be honest: I spoke about chess with gusto, but in reality I'm someone who's actually never completed an entire game of chess. I'm not wired for it, and I don't think I have the stamina to hang in there for an entire match. I'll just add this to my list of things the Dos Equis guy and I have in common.
Feel free to laugh!
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