Monday, July 19, 2010

Trying to Stop the Forces of Nature: A Parenting Metaphor

DSCN1521 You probably can’t pick us out in this photo, but Jackson and I are in it. This photo needs to be blown up and hung in a prominent space in my house. It is a rare moment in time when, for just a flickering second, I had my child all figured out.

It was the week of Camp Grandma and we were at Water Country, which is a water park in Virginia. It had been a long day in the sun, and Katie had just melted down because her ice cream cone was dripping down her arm. I took Jackson to the big wave pool when the water was still calm and the wave session hadn’t started yet.

The time came for the wave machine to turn on and the waves started rolling in the pool. Jackson was taken aback by the movement of the first and second waves. And then, his shock wore off and he went from defense to offense; he started fighting back. As the waves kept coming, he raised his little hands in the air and literally hit them in an attempt to make them stop. But no matter how hard he hit them (and then, subsequently, punched AND kicked them), he couldn’t make them stop.

I got the biggest kick out of watching this little squirt trying to stop the forces of nature. In his little mind, he truly thinks he is big enough to change the world. He used all his might and effort, but the waves just kept rolling into him.

After about three minutes of this, the waves stopped while the lifeguards chastised some kid for some infraction. Then the waves started up again. This time, Jackson kicked at them once or twice and was lifted off his feet a little bit. All of a sudden, it clicked for him: this could be FUN! He went from attacking the waves to riding them with joy on his face. He started jumping into them as they neared him, and let the waves carry him for a few inches. A smile broke out on his face, and although he started sputtering as the waves crested over his head, he was thrilled and happy when moments before he was hostile and unmovable.

I realized, in that moment, my job as a parent is to be the wave. My little warrior son is going to put up many a ferocious fight, but I will keep rolling on with determination of my own: Determination to teach him manners and how to become a gentleman. Determination to educate him and harness the power within him. Determination to help him become a great leader and also a loving follower of the God whose love is bigger than any ocean.

One day, he will stop fighting it and start enjoying it. The three-year-old tantrums will subside and he will jump into life feet first, with absolute abandonment. Please, Lord, help me keep being the wave!


Gina said...

Great post! Love your thoughts here.

And looking at the photo, I felt like I was looking at Where's, Where's Elizabeth!

Verna said...

Thanks for the inspiration. My Josh is 8 and most times it seems a chore to keep on keeping on. I know that he will be the man God wants him to be, I just need to continue the "fight"


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