I’ve made no secret of the fact that Bug and I share a stubborn streak. I have an entirely new respect for my Mom and her parenting as I realize how challenging [and frankly, sometimes exhausting] the day-to-day battles can be. God has used Bug to remind me that when refined by His grace, our stubbornness can be transformed into self-discipline, a strong sense of justice, and fierce determination.
Even so, I fight a multitude of battles with Bug on a daily basis. Like any parent, I’ve learned to pick which hills on which to die, but Bug tends to test my resolve on every battle I choose. I’ve learned that if I show even an inch of willingness to give in, he will pounce. And if I allow him to have his way, I’ll find myself having an all out war to re-establish those boundaries.
If it sounds tiring, that’s because it is. Bug tests every boundary, and explores every rule. He wants to look at every word I tell him to do or not to do and examine it from every. single. perspective. My sweet Bug feels the need to thoroughly understand every why, when, where, and what-if before he agrees to submit to the said rule.
Like I said…tire. ing.
And while Bug is a great kid, it’s sometimes hard to see the progress. He’s never been one to make a big deal out of milestones, and sometimes after months [or even years] of teaching, cajoling, helping, and guiding, he just quietly “gets it” one day.
We had one of those days recently, and I was not about to let it go undocumented. Let’s start with the Battle of Applesauce. Or more appropriately titled – Bug’s War Against Anything Nutritious.
Up until about a year and a half ago, Bug was a terrific eater. However, around 3 years old he apparently became allergic to all fruits and vegetables. That’s right. It’s a little known allergy, but goes by the name, “onlycrackersandcheese.” Through much, much work, we finally succeeded in getting him to eat yogurt, pasta, pizza [yes...getting him to actually try pizza was indeed a battle], and believe it or not – hummus. That boy’s saving grace is that he eats about 1/4 cup of hummus every day for lunch. Otherwise, it’s all carbs and dairy.
I’ve long had the rule that if Bug is hungry between meals, he can have a fruit or a vegetable for his snack. The only exception is if we’re going to have a late dinner, so Bug and I have the following conversation two or three times a day:
Bug: “Mommy, my tummy is not all the way full. Can I have a snack?”
Me: “Sure! If you want a snack before lunch/dinner it needs to be a fruit or vegetable. So let’s see….you can have applesauce, grapes, raisins, carrots, oranges….”
Bug: “I don’t want fruit, Mommy. I want FOOD!”
Me: “Fruit is a food, Bug. This is the rule, it hasn’t changed. If you don’t want to eat fruit or vegetable, then you’ll need to wait until lunch. Go play.”
Bug [to himself]: “Fruit is not a food.”
Then Bug sulks off to play – with much moping and sighing, of course.
But one day…oh, one day…our conversation went like this:
Bug: “Mommy, can I have a snack? My tummy is not all the way full.”
Me: “Sure! You can have fruit or vegetables for a snack. How about grapes? Or applesauce?”
Bug: “I want applesauce, please.”
So, without making a big deal about it [because making a big deal out of Bug doing something new or different is a sure-fire way for him to immediately stop], I poured some applesauce into a bowl and handed Bug a spoon.
And would you like to know what that kid did with it?
That’s right. He ate ALL of it. Then twenty minutes later, he pooped. His little body is so used to carbs and dairy, it was like, “What on earth?! Fiber?? Woo-hooooooo!”
After Bug’s body thoroughly enjoyed the newly found goodness of fiber, he told me wanted to draw letters. So I got out a piece of paper and gave him a pen.
Before I tell you what he wrote, you need some information. If there’s something about which Shawn and I are excited or about which we feel strongly, Bug just automatically shrinks away from whatever it is. He wouldn’t eat chocolate for the longest time because I exclaimed about how good it was one too many times.
I wish I were exaggerating.
The one thing that Shawn and I are most passionate about is Jesus. So naturally, Bug pouts any time the topic comes up. Our nighttime prayers have been a battle [in which we've actually had some breakthroughs, but that's for another day], and Bug pouts if we dare to open the children’s Bible to read. For awhile, Bug was even refusing to watch Veggie Tales. Veggie Tales. What 4-year old doesn’t like Veggie Tales??
Flat out talking to Bug about Jesus only produces crankiness, so we’ve had to be very creative in helping our Bug develop spiritually. I teach Bug scripture and Biblical principles through silly songs [although he still refuses to sing during his school's chapel time...he deems it too loud and too silly apparently], and I tell him stories from the Bible at bedtime as if they’re stories I made up [only telling him at the end that it actually happened and is in the Word of God.]
For about nine months now, I’ve been actively and earnestly praying for that boy’s heart. I don’t want him to miss out on knowledge of and intimacy with His Creator because of sheer stubbornness. I’ve backed off in some areas, pressed harder in other areas, and looked for creative ways and situations to speak into Bug’s heart about the love of Christ. I haven’t seen that these things have made much of a difference, but I’ve pressed on, covering every word I speak to him about this topic with prayer.
So Bug wanted to draw some letters.
I told him it would be fun if he wrote me a note and said, “If you could write anything in the whole wide world to Mommy in a note, what would you want me to know?”
“I want to write Jesus died on the cross.”
Outwardly I feigned relative indifference, but in my heart I was peeing my pants. Peeing my heart pants? Peeing the pants of my heart?
I was overjoyed.
“Alrighty,” I answered, “Want me to help you spell it out?”
I expected him to become bored with the note halfway through, but not only did he write his name and “Jesus died on the cross,” but he also drew a picture of Jesus. I know better than to think we’re finished with our battles – over applesauce, over spiritual formation, or over a hundred other little things in his day – but I’ll take it.
And like Mary, I’ll treasure these things in my heart.
[But unlike Mary, I'll also blog about it. 'Cause that's how I roll.]