Monday, November 24, 2008

The Terrible Twos...I Guess

Up to this point in our parenthood, we have been engaging in very few disciplinary tactics with Violet (going on 2 here, shortly), opting, instead, for positive "Training Sessions". We set aside time to work with her for 10 or so minutes at a time to train her to obey in one thing or another, to avoid the pressure of an unpredictable circumstance wherein we may be unable to apply a sensible form of correction, or if taken by surprise, might react in anger. Since she was 6 months old, this has worked beautifully. She's a happy, obedient girl, seldom pouts or demands her way, and is eager to learn new "skills" through Training.  Really. I'm not exaggerating.

Recently, however, she's been expressing some of her sin nature in ways such as the following: 

I am busy chopping onions while she plays behind me, and she suddenly bursts into, "No spankins, no spankins, no spankins!" I have no idea what she's done! I will turn around and try to search for some offense committed, and if I find one, I feel obliged to apply the rod, since she obviously feels guilty about it (and, as a child, I remember how much worse it was to have a secret sin that had gone unpunished than to receive a due punishment for a known one). There are times, however, when I cannot discover a single thing she's done wrong! Then she will continue to chant, "No spankins, no spankins" and look at me hopefully until I turn her attention to something else, reassuring her that I forgive her, and No, no spankin's. 

This may sound straightforward to some of you, but for us as parents of an eagerly obedient tender-hearted baby girl, this is heartbreaking. It seems like I've apparently been making up Piles of rules that she's been memorizing, and breaking while I'm not looking. What is going wrong? I am baffled by this new phase creeping up on us! I feel very much out of control, and very much like I'm trespassing into territory God never meant me to as a parent (i.e., being her conscience rather than her tutor to lead her to Christ)

Some other things I've noticed---whether related to the above description or not, I don't know. But, anyhow......she's become VERY astute in picking up the whole "We're In Public" situation. She knows Mommy will not drop everything and have a training session in front of the neighbors, or the check-out lady in the commissary. She will deliberately (I say deliberately because she will not try this within the confines of our home--indoors) disobey a direct order--one that she knows very well and has been trained in obedience for---such as "Come to Mommy". Now, in public, as you all know....this is SO important to obey. When there are people milling around and the child is getting from the cart to the parking lot to the van....there's SO MUCH that can happen!!! I find myself bracing for this encounter every time I set her down on the ground in a public situation--I'm prepared to have to bark at her, run after her, and battle her kicks and protests. SUCH A HUGELY DIFFERENT CHILD FROM THE ONE I ENJOY AT HOME!! I have even brought her into the house and spent 5 minutes going from room to room, calling, "Come to Mommy" and she IMMEDIATELY runs to me, time after time, familiar with this process, and excited at the prospect of showing off her skills to me. It's like TWO DIFFERENT VIOLETS!!           ...........and I feel defeated!  < :(

The third thing that has snuck into our lives with her is a very strange attitude towards pain. This one I have almost given up hope on already. Here's the scenario:

Violet falls and smacks her head--not real bad, but enough to make her wail. She cries, and the second I put up my hands to beckon her to come to me for comfort, she backs away screaming, "NOno NONononono!" If I try to go to her and collect her to hug and kiss the wound, she will violently thrash and get out of my arms at all costs, crying all the harder for trying to be comforted. Weird, huh? Well, we talked about it long and hard, and decided that maybe we should just assume this was something else that needed to be trained in her. Sin takes many forms in people, right? Our tactics for a while were to command her to "Come" when she hurt herself, and tell her to "Be Still" (both commands she's familiar with) and then to explain that she must let Mommy & Daddy give her hugs and kisses when she was hurt, and that "this is the way we do it" when we get hurt, or have pain. We find comfort. 

Well, that one backfired. Now, when she bonks-- she still maintains the anger in her little body, flings herself rigidly into my arms, and screams with anger, her mouth wide open against my face .......and cries bloody murder until I tell her "That's enough crying." ("No fake crying.") *sigh* 

Man, this parenting thing is tough. It occurs to me that the Sin Nature is advanced even in a 2 year old. I am amazed to see how strongly it will push through despite our best (most psychologically and spiritually advanced) endeavors. It just makes me long to see Christ formed in her, because my attempts at teaching her Law.....well, just like with the rest of the human race, it doesn't catch on. 

She's still as precious as ever......I love her more every day, in fact. It's just---well, I think it's exposing to me how desperate my Violet is for Christ, even at the "innocent" age of 2. I am spurred on to spend more time in prayer for her than to spend researching parenting tactics. 

1 comment:

Denise said...

I feel so inaddequate to post anything, seeing as I have zero familiarity with training a child, most especially a two-year old. Also because, I think Violet has to this point been so delightful because you have done such a good job training her.

I will say that I will join with you in prayers for wisdom in your parenting, which the Lord promises to give in James if we ask and believe. I will also say I'm grateful Ben is there so that the two of you can pray and discuss issues like this, and you are not alone anymore!