Your Reactions are Showing

My Dad used to always order his eggs “over easy”—a little fragile, potentially gooey, requiring extra care to keep them intact. I think we can have days like this, too…ones when we need to be handled a little more gently or things might get messy. These “Over Easy” posts are for those days when you might need something on the lighter, “sunny side” of things. —Diane

We have a very observant two-year-old. She has verbal skills exceeding that of her brother and sister at her age. We have had some very close fellowship these past few days, as the other children have been at camp (for an excruciating two weeks, but that’s another post) and my husband is returning from his cross-country excursion (ditto). I am able to focus more attention on Kate, and I am seeing the impression that we have all made on her, good and not-so.

The other day I was singing in the car as we drove into town. Kate kept demanding, “Mommy, stop!” Now, it shouldn’t ruffle my feathers that my little sweetheart feels the need to critique my vocalization. At the risk of sounding narcissistic, folks actually request for me to sing at church sometimes. And they don’t even bring compost to throw. But repeated requests to “put a lid on it” from a toddler, well… I finally gave in and stopped. Whatever joy I was receiving from making my joyful noise was being drowned out by the peanut gallery. A few seconds later I heard her chirp, in a sing-songy voice, “Good girl!” I had stopped. It was the behavior she desired. She was commending me! Because it made me laugh, she now uses the phrase several times a day, but always appropriately. When she gets a little older we’ll talk about Who makes her a “good girl”—not her obedience to commands, not even her most sterling behavior, but a Person.

Another phrase that Kate’s antennae have picked up is, “That’s not fair.” Ugh. That one comes from her older siblings who periodically use the phrase, even though their extremely sensitive daddy often follows with the retort, “Life is not fair. Get used to disappointment.” This phrase Katie also uses correctly—that is, when the situation would lend itself to such comments, not that I think it is correct. How much reasoning do you do with a toddler who tells you something isn’t fair? Fair??? She is still at the age when she gets to take daily naps, is carried around and cuddled, has relatively no household chores and has her own personal valet who even does diaper changes. I should be the one whining! Some of life’s smaller situations often require more strength than the more complex ones.

The word “nuts” (she got that from me) is also used when things are not going swimmingly. My dad’s version was “nertz.” It makes me smile just to type it. Think of the gems she could have picked up though (and kids certainly do!) if I had not chosen to live out “Set a watch O Lord before my mouth, keep the door of my lips.” Oh, God is so good to help me so often.

Kate is very perceptive, and she has a terrific memory for behaviors. Some of the facial expressions and gestures that emerge in my daily give-and-take with her are quite amusing. She can be quite the drama queen. The drama unfolds before her eyes, and then she puts it into re-runs. The other day I was coming very, very close to losing my cool, literally and figuratively. Because “Daisy,” my van, had decided to begin blinking her “service engine” light, I had to install a car seat in our very low station wagon so I could run some errands (you tall folks know how fun that is) in the heat of the afternoon (you could fry and egg on any part of the car, and on my forehead as well) with at least a half-dozen attempts at the shoulder strap adjustment (adjust…put the baby in…nope too short…take the baby out…keep her from turning on all the knobs on the dash…readjust the straps…put the baby in…still too short…take the baby out…). ‘Round about my fourth try I groaned (much, much more than a frustrated sigh) and began talking with the Lord while I was shuffling around. I looked up mid-groan to see the surprise on Kate’s face—she had never heard me react like this. “What does this mean? I didn’t do anything! That’s not fair! She’s upset at me, and I have nothing to do with this whole car seat deal! Nuts!”—it all registered on her face in an instant, which is probably what prompted the audible praying on my part. As soon as she sensed that I was talking to someone else about this problem, she was good to go. She went back to searching for dead french fries in the seat cushions.

I often coach my older kids regarding the fact that it is not your actions (which can be planned) that show your true heart, but your reactions. Praise the Lord, He helped my MBMB “Mommy Behavioral Model Barometer” to go off at the right time that afternoon so that Kate saw a right reaction. Part of me wanted to hurl that car seat to the back part of our five acres, let me tell you. God tempered it. He gave the grace for me to listen, above my surging emotions. When I had cooled off and we were on the road, He even helped me glean some points of thankfulness from the whole incident: 1) We have a second car for me to use; 2) It has air conditioning; 3) The air conditioning works; 4) I wasn’t stranded for another four days, ten miles outside of town with no vehicle; 5) it wasn’t raining, and Kate was also dry, and 6) Kate cooperated with the whole in-and-out thing pretty well. She was unusually quiet; but I know what she was thinking: “Good girl.”

Diane Heeney is a stay-at-home mom, who enjoys some freelance writing, blogging, and speaking for ladies’ retreats and functions. She received her BA (Church Ministries) in ‘85 grad from Bob Jones University and went on to serve at BJU as a secretary in the Extension office and later as Director of Girl’s Extension Ministries. Diane and her husband Patrick have helped a number of churches in the past 16 years, and are now assisting the ministry of a growing church in Lander, Wyoming. They have three children: Erin (breathlessly awaiting 13), Michael (all camo, all the time at 9), and Kate (their sweet surprise, now 3 yrs old).
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