In the excellent parenting series that Matt and I just listened to, Tedd Tripp gave some good examples of connecting with kids in difficult situations... Say you winningly convince your Jr. Higher to let you buy a pair of shoes for them because they are the cheaper option and all you can really afford, even though you know they are not the ones your child most wants. Later, the child is really upset about having the less cool shoes... How do you connect with your kid, love them, encourage them in this situation?
Last week I felt like I was there too- back in Jr. High, with all of it's fears and defenses boiling up in me. The preschool our kids are at is super close to our home. BUT, this day I was carrying a big bag of groceries, very aware that K3 is bigger than ever, and having a hard time convinincing my sweet 19 month old to walk home. In America, I'd have thrown the groceries in the trunk, buckled the kids into their seats and zipped straight home. If my darlings were upset about something, I could have tried to work through the situation in the privacy of our own car, or soon, in our own home. Of course I want to comfort them and give them all the love and attention they need and desire, but there will also be times when reality will dictate (as will Mama!), and provide them an opportunity to learn that they're not going to be able to have everything they want in life, every time, right when they want it.
For Marian, this was one of those times... I wasn't able to carry her home so she threw a FIT on the sidewalk and half our apartment complex (I felt like) came out to watch the scene. I spoke kindly to my princess, offered her my hand to walk with her, and waited for her to stand up and walk home with me. Honestly, it was only a handful of people that stared at me, told me what what Marian wanted (I'm thinking, isn't it obvious that I know that already?) and offered their advice: Of course I needed to hold her (not sure what I was supposed to do with the groceries). The consensus seemed clear- whatever it took, I felt that all my onlookers expected me to make her stop crying at all costs. This I couldn't do and it clearly upset all of us. And then I feared.... "of course they're all wondering 'what is this lady doing with a thrid one on the way!? She clearly can't handle two!' "
I hate being stared at and we are stared at LOTS here. My mother-in-law commented on one of her visits here that she felt like we were celebritries the way people are often so interested in our blonde-haired, blue-eyed kids, and the way people are so amazed that there are two of them (locals are only allowed to have one child). We are often asked a dozen questions about them and very often people pull out their cell phones to take pictures or want their picutre taken with them. I often have a hard time with this kind-hearted attention, but when we are stared at for being different and not doing things right according to local norms, I feel really uggggggg. It's hard for me (and I'm well aware that this is harder for me when I'm pregnant!)
So, when I got home that day, Matt encouraged me with a reminder of that example from Tedd Tripp. Jr. Highers need to be reminded that their identity is in Christ and not in their shoes.... and I need to be reminded that my identity and worth and defense come from Christ- are all securely rooted in who he is for me and who I am in him- and not from what my neighbors think of me or my parenting methods. We've been reminded recently that local friends here may never understand us- why we do what we do, are what we are...
Oh to follow Jesus more nearly- the One who did not retaliate when insults were hurled at him: Jesus, who entrusted himself to Him who judges justly. (1 Peter 2: 23) (And how much easier do I have it than Jesus! I'm usually dealing with kindly-intended words of concern and criticism.) Oh for more of His grace to work into every fiber of me.... especially all the sinfully proud, overly-independent, self-reliant, and pregnant-hormonal ones!
Here's one place where we daily hear lots of wise advice, concerned comments and common questions- in the elevator in our apartment building.