When my twins turned five I was not aware of how difficult everything would become for them. Strong, independent five year olds, right?
JUDAH: (throws his head back and says in a melodramatic sigh voice) WHYYY???????
[He goes into the bathroom. A few seconds later, he emerges.]
ME: Did you flush and wash your hands?
JUDAH: (flops on the floor and says in melodramatic sigh voice) UUUUUGH!!!
The conflicts with my boys are usually about one of three big issues: using the bathroom, eating meals, or cleaning up after themselves.
In my mind, these should be simple, expected tasks for five year old boys, but mine act like I’ve asked them to cross the Grand Canyon on a tightrope while juggling cats and eating dog poop. How could I be so cruel and have such high expectations?!
Sometimes, they try to meet my authority with an authority of their own. Here’s an example of 5 year old negotiation at its finest–
JUDAH: Can I have a piece of chocolate?
ME: After you finish your lunch.
JUDAH: (throws his head back and says in melodramatic sigh voice) WHYYY??????
ME: Because you have to finish your lunch first.
JUDAH: Okay, well, if I finish my lunch, I get a piece of chocolate AND a piece of cake.
He says this like the finishing of the lunch was up for negotiation. Like he expects me to be overjoyed that he did something basic and foundational for his health and well-being. So overjoyed, in fact, that I would now be willing to throw in extra rewards and bribes for the privilege of watching him sacrifice so much and work so hard.
Um…no, son. You must finish your lunch. That is not negotiable. It is the dessert in question that is not guaranteed.
My boys will never be lawyers.
The negotiating and overreacting is tiring to me as a mom. I want to scream at them that this stuff is NOT THAT HARD!
It’s actually for your own good. You will feel better after you do it. Just pee; get rid of the bad stuff. Just eat; take in some good stuff. Just clean up; it’s part of being a member of this family.
Today I started to wonder if God feels the same way with all of my excuses and bargaining. Sometimes I feel myself respond to that gentle whisper in a Judah-like fashion–
Talk to that homeless woman. She’s a person just like you. Show her love.
ME: [mentally throw back my head and say in melodramatic sigh voice] WHYYYY??????
Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.
ME: Okay, well, if she’s still there after I drop the boys off at preschool, THEN I’ll talk to her.
Why do I act like loving people is negotiable? It’s basic and foundational for my life as a follower of Jesus. It’s for my own good. I feel better after I do it.
Sometimes I am more like a 5 year old than I’d like to admit.
And it’s really not that hard…Get rid of the bad stuff. Take in the good stuff. It’s part of being a member of God’s family.