I can usually stomach an armload of whining; I can usually manage a whole heap of grumbling and mumbling; and I can usually navigate a boatload of small-child drama, but yesterday??? Mama couldn’t deal.
Mama’s “I-can-handle-your-junk” meter had been slowly building all day long but when the clock struck 6:50 PM on a Sunday evening in the middle of the park, mama’s patient-lovin’ gaskets had blown. BLOWN! UP!
Prior to play time at the park and mama’s blown gaskets, we had decided to load up the bikes and take a Sunday ride.
Things started off great.
The sky was a brilliant blue; the clouds were all cotton-ball like; the breeze was rustling the summer leaves; and for the love of everything good, true, and holy…the humidity was at an ALL TIME LOW!!! Mama could breathe without sweating and life was pleasant.
Our eldest (who had been off and on drama throughout the day) seemed to be finally settling back into a normal state of human functioning. (Raised hands!) He even stated while we rode, “My grumpies are because of sin’s fault.”
Nature was lovely, child was cognizant of grumpies, and my bum was not yet screaming for resuscitation (Is there a seat comfy enough for a mother who has given birth to living watermelons?!?!).
Things were good and mama’s gaskets were still in place.
But as we turned around at the 3.2 mile mark, the wheels had started to wobble a bit.
Since our big boy had done such a great job navigating all the stops, crosswalks, and crazy men riding at 73 MPH in spandex, we had decided that we would work (on our way back) on the skill of, “Getting-on-your-bike-without-a-parent-push.” It sounded like a great idea; it really did.
We showed him how to position his pedals, where to put his feet, and how to push down with his right foot as he lifted his left foot onto the other pedal. And he tried it…he really did. But boy’s legs are short, and his patience is even shorter. It wasn’t coming quickly; he was getting frustrated; and then he took a couple tumbles onto the asphalt. We continued to encourage him and do all the other things that “good-bike-teaching” parents do, but then he took a couple more falls and was at his wit’s end.
He. was. an. angry. mess.
Standing up (with teeth literally bared and spit frothing at the mouth), he yells, “YOU did this to me! You tried to run me off the road!! You are trying to hurt me!!! This is all YOUR fault!!!!”
Kindly and patiently, I reassured him that I was trying to teach him (not hurt him); I empathized with how new things can be difficult and hard; and I graciously reminded him to use his words EVEN when he’s frustrated.
Getting back on the bike, we pedaled back to the park.
And as I rode, I reminded my counseling/mama-self that he was SCARED. And because he was scared, he was projecting his anger onto the one who was pushing him toward the SCARY. I got it; I really did.
Be patient. Be kind. Be gracious. Be supportive. Be understanding.
Be patient. Be kind. Be gracious. Be supportive. Be understanding.
I was rehearsing the response I wanted to have.
But as we came around the last 1/4 mile of our ride and faced a hill that required physical stamina and mental focus, our boy just fell apart.
He was screaming, crying, and thrashing BEFORE he even fell off the blessed bike.
While he pushed his bike up the rest of the hill, he continued to rant.
“You guys are mean! You did this to me! I hate bike riding! I’m done!” were some of the ones I actually heard, but I know there were a whole lot of others ones I couldn’t hear through the muffled and angry tears.
Upon reaching the top of the hill, we made sure he was okay, empathized with the difficulty of the hill, and then took away his bedtime stories.
“Caden, this is NOT an acceptable way to handle your anger and fear. We realize that this is hard and new, but this does NOT give you a special pass to lash out on the rest of us. You need to control your temper and ask for help in a controlled and appropriate way.”
With tears, he nodded his head and accepted his consequences.
Abandoning the whole “teach-a-new-skill” on a family bike ride, we helped him back on his bike and pedaled the rest of the way back to the park.
Grabbing a quick picnic dinner, we all had a chance to cool down, settle down, and re-acclimate to life off the bikes before following through on our promise for some run and fun on the playground.
Gaskets were still intact.
But not even five minutes into our playground pleasure, our boy bent his fingers back on this tunnel-like slide. With big alligator tears he made his way to me. Reaching for him in an attempt to comfort him and identify the severity of the “bending,” I said, “Oh, buddy. Ouch. Let me see what happened.”
And like a feral animal who had been backed into the corner (with spit flying from his mouth…AGAIN), he yelled, “DON’T TOUCH ME! YOU’RE MAKING IT ALL WORSE!”
And then the gaskets were no longer intact.
I had had ENOUGH. Reached my limit and was DONE. I was ENOUGH DONE.
Making sure Don was there to deal with the fall-out and fingers, I simply turned and walked away. With parent eyes on both me and my screaming kid, I walked away.
I didn’t turn around; I didn’t stop; and truth be told, I didn’t care (in that moment) if his fingers fell off. I was hurt, mad, and down-right sick of trying to be patient, kind, gracious, supportive, and understanding. I was DONE with being the target of his anger–DONE with being the bullseye of his fear–DONE. WITH. IT…DONE.WITH.HIM.
Walking to the other side of the lake, I plopped down on the ground and cried.
What is wrong with him?
Why does he have SUCH a temper?
Why can’t he separate ME from his anger?
Why? Why? Why?
These were the questions I uttered in frustrated silence.
And then (like only HE can do), He reminded me…not of my horribly-fallen parenting-self…but of His perfect and godly-parent response to me.
In short, He reminded me of just HOW differently HE and I parent.
He reminded me that even through my anger, He stays.
He reminded me that even through my fears, He stays.
He reminded me that even through my sin, He stays.
He never leaves.
He never walks away.
He never turns His back.
He never tires of staying with me, through my hard.
He never has a moment where His “I-can-handle-your-junk” meter is maxed out.
He never blows His heavenly gaskets…not even through the tantrum-throwing, misplaced, projected, bullseye-shooting that I, and you, and we ALL do to Him…a whole lot.
Never. Not EVER.
Because…He is good; for His steadfast love endures forever! Psalm 118:1
Because… the faithfulness of the Lord endures forever. Psalm 117:2
Because…nothing in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:39
Because…He NEVER parents His children like we sometimes do.