Once upon a time, there lived a coconut eating dinosaur….

This is how the boy began a narrative tonight. He told me five stories tonight (most of it is a ploy to avoid then inevitable, sleep!) but they were actually quite good. He told me about a dinosaur that went to the forest and got thirsty then hungry, so he climbed up a tree and ate some coconuts. He told me around five different tales tonight and I absolutely loved it, so much so that I allowed an extra 20 minutes of story telling (I’m actually never really on time with bed. I just wanted to be done with wee ones for the evening). I  couldn’t get enough. I found myself delighting in Oliver in a way that I have longed to delight in him.

He’s my challenging one! We often clash. Either we are so alike or so different, I can’t decide. Either way my buttons are all pushed each and every day since he turned three. He was my first. I have loved him with a love so strong that when I found out I was pregnant with Chloe I was concerned that I wouldn’t love another baby as much as I adored him. Then he turned three and I asked the daily question, “what happened to my sweet son? I want him back!!!”

I sit at a dilemma in life wondering if I work on character in my child or just nurture the hell out of him. It’s easy to ask, “what would Jesus do?” and then come up with an easy answer but to me there is so much going on in a child and in every individual family that each dynamic holds a unique answer. Would he work on his character so that he is an amazing adult with love and compassion in his heart? Or would he nurture with intense compassion so that he grows to know, in the marrow of his soul, that he is beloved? I believe the answer is…. wait for it….. YES! A complete and honest, yes. Jesus would!

My thorn has been finding the moment in which I nurture or I bring correction and guidance. I am deeply committed to my children therefore I want to provide a path in which they can walk in politeness, a good attitude, creativity, self esteem and all that jazz. Yet I also want to accept that they are children with huge immaturities and imperfections and at times they just need me to accept them in their moments of ever increasing emotional meltdowns, stiff necked bossiness, and grating negativity. These are my worst and most shameful moments as a parent; I am a perfectionist and would rather we administer the ‘proper emotion for the proper occasion’. I have expectations and I see a vision in my head of how it ‘ought’ to be. The way I think it ‘ought’ to be isn’t wrong either. It’s playful, creative, silly, fun, sloppy, unplanned and unscripted. It’s childlike. I have envisioned the responsibility of having small children to be an inquisitive and creative endeavor where you hold your child’s hand through questions and curiosities that life begs us to discover. Yet this is not always how it is when you have little humans with their own, God given, personality and agenda. Our story has caused me to re-evaluate my own ideals and expectations. It’s sometimes been abrasive, idealistic (Oliver is a perfectionist), over emotional, hyperactive with no outlet to diffuse and riddled with unharnessed emotions. All this to say, I have had to adjust in order to bend my expectations to my children’s realities.

Tonight I saw a glimpse of a happy boy that lives in his wildest dreams but shies away from showing others his inner genius. He told me story after story as he extracted precious minutes to avoid the ever necessary ‘bed time’. I found myself enjoying and delighting in his mentally exposing dramatization of a dinosaur named, “Chookie” that lives in the forest where coconuts grow and he eats them after he climbs up a tree and plays with his friends. This was a big step for the boy to relay the images that he sees in his brain and verbalize them into fanciful and colorful descriptives. I loved every minute of it!

I realize we won’t always have moments like tonight. Tomorrow we will wake up and find something new to cry about. We will say or hear the words, “Sweetie, calm down” over two dozen times and I will find a way to breath through a frustration that threatens to steal my patience. But tonight we laughed and clapped at the end of every story where dinosaurs were friendly and ships come to take us to little islands in the middle of the ocean.

Sweet dreams, my wonderful! You are loved!

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