how to parents

Free Hugs

Guest Post by Gabby Shumate My 8 month old impeccable example of a son threw a tantrum yesterday. It started as a slow, whiny fake-cough that I have literally no idea where he could have picked it up from. Lately he’s been using this instant fake cough in various situations – to get attention, express disgust, laugh in agreement, you get the picture. Yesterday, it was to loudly complain that his body would not do what his mind had already surmised. See, he’s the best sitter-upper that ever did live. He’s been doing it for months, something his basically walking twin brother has never done correctly. His body just won’t move the way he wants it to. Instead, he results to rolling around on the floor like some partially-drunk piglet practicing the barrel rolls more dramatically than a Real Housewife when the somersaults were a little too challenging in P.E. class (come on, we all did it).

I looked to my husband, eyes gawking, and asked if it was really starting this early. See, I’ve seen it happen in grocery stores, on playgrounds, in restaurants, and in the homes of my family members and friends. I never know how to react when I see it. I didn’t know how to react when it happened to me. Do I tell him “No” in a stern voice? Do I pick him up? Do I move him into the position he so much desires? Do I leave the room and let the children fight it out in a weird Lord of the Flies meets Hunger Games scenario?? (Never. If I remember correctly, Piggy dies, and Harry’s thighs touch, so they’re practically the same person). I tried something new, probably futile, but I find in uncomfortable situations, doing something productive or keeping busy lightens the tension. I got on my hands and knees like a crazy person and crawled around him, loudly narrating the alternating patterns of my arms and legs while I happily explained “Look! Mommy can crawl to whatever toy she wants! I’m so mobile and independent! Look at me!!”

Harry stared at me like I was an idiot – it happens often. I can’t fault him. He’s incredibly witty and sarcastic. He knows when I’m being ironic. But, he stopped whining. He laughed, and he went on to play with a different toy. The next day, he crawled two feet. He’s not exactly winning the Olympics, but he’s making progress, and that, my friends, is a celebration. Did Harry learn to crawl just from watching me one time? No. I crawl with my boys all the time. I stand with my boys all the time. I walk with my boys all the time. Every day, I sit them in the high chairs while we eat our dinner in the hopes that one day we can go to a restaurant without fear or anxiety. Every day, I give them a bath, brush any existing teeth, and put them in bed. Every day, I change their clothes. Every day, I pull the athletic one, Davis, off of Harry and explain to Harry that his brother isn’t being mean, but he just loves him so much and finds him so interesting that he has to have physical contact. Then I explain to Davis that Harry doesn’t like it when he lays on him like Hulk Hogan, but prefers to hold hands instead. He’s a lover, not a fighter. I tell him about personal space.

Sometimes, I get crazily lost in the routine of twins. Wake up. Change Clothes. Play. Drink a bottle. Take a Nap. Play. Eat Food. Change Diapers. Play. Clean the bathroom because Davis thinks he’s Shamu giving a show in Seaworld stadium and the world is his splash zone (That’s a terrible example. Watch Blackfish. Down with SeaWorld).  There’s so many tasks to complete that sometimes I forget that their childhood is meant for setting examples. It’s meant for practicing. We’re practicing how to have friends. I’m setting an example for appropriate table behavior. We’re gaining valuable life skills that will make us happy and productive human beings! See, I don’t say it like that because, man, is that a lot of pressure. But it’s true.We are called to be imitators of God. It is only natural that our children are imitators of us. Most of what they learn, they learn from me. So, the things that I’m bad at, I practice more. The things that I’m good at, I freely give. Unconditional love, I got that. Laughter, I got that. Grace, I use it every day. Using a toilet, yep, I’ve been doing that one for years. I’m trying to give them the best parts of me. My husband will give them the best parts of him. Maybe, all that good stuff, all that practice, and the incredible strengths and individual talents and personalities that God has blessed them with will all melt together in this incredible masterpiece who is not just capable of great things, but will one day reach full potential.