I apologize for my absence. Several days ago I was seized by a migraine which turned my brain into a black hole. Thank goodness it finally let me out of prison this afternoon.
Speaking of prison, I read in the paper about some people who zip tied their pre-teen daughter and kept her caged and living in a 5x7 "playhouse". Or maybe "pooh-kitchen-bed" would be a better description.
Now having had a pre-teen daughter, I get it. I can understand that sometimes, you are just plain out of ideas. You have punished and you have rewarded and you have cajoled and you have pled until all you can do is stab a fork into your own skull hoping to generate a fresh approach. About then, a twist tie for her mouth seems like the very best option, if you could just. get. her. to. pucker.
I will also admit to several (thousand) failings as a mother. My name is not Lisa Completely Stable Bingham, okay? I've also heard there are some rumors floating around out there about me allegedly telling my daughter that she "looked like a little pig" when she cried like that. But that was a REALLY LONG TIME AGO, YOU GUYS! If it even happened at all.
Of course, if it had happened, I would have also gone into another room to calm down, then returned to her side and held her and apologized and smoothed her curly tail—I mean hair—to make amends. Mothers are imperfect. This we know. Which is why Heavenly Father created "I'm sorry. I'll do better."
However, some parents really lose their way. Like the designers of pooh-kitchen-bed playhouses. I would imagine it happened over time, as satan always works with subtlety. (I lower case his name on purpose, so as to diminish him. I'm a disturber and annoyer of his kingdom.) Something that starts out small eventually escalates.
Just today my husband mentioned passing through a neighborhood where a woman sat in the freezing cold on her porch, sucking on a cigarette and enthralled with her cell phone. All the while, her child stood in bare feet, tugging on her sleeve, trying to capture her attention.
She ignored him.
And like a twist tie to his spirit, he became small. Just imagine what he'll have to do over time in order to be noticed.
I also witnessed a parenting situation today. A two year old child fell to figurative pieces in the middle of the aisle at TJ Maxx. Defeated, he finally gave up his will and howled, "MOMMMYYYY!!!!! I NEEEEEEED YOOOOUUUU!!!" The mother crossed the distance in seconds, swept that boy into her arms and patting his little bum, held him tight while he sobbed into her neck. I could almost hear his self worth expand.
Two mothers, two children and two very different expected outcomes.
So basically, we have two options. As the gardeners, either we grow our children, or we shrink them. Physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. Every day, we make a choice—whether to use a twist tie, or an empathetic heart. To cut off the water supply, or let it flow freely. To take a hoe to their self esteem or pull the weeds that gather around them threatening to strangle their potential.
May I remember this the next time my daughter asks me to unpick her sewing project the night before it's due, or to stay up late to help color diagrams of clogged arteries. When I point a finger of shame at her for failing math (that she'll never use anyway) or feel compelled to call attention to the third eyeball some might call a zit.
Surely, something is bound to flourish from my efforts...or lack thereof. And I'll either need a jail cell or a porcelain vase to house it.