Archives for posts with tag: Parenting

The Lock Edited

It was a small thing. Almost unnoticeable and certainly prosaic. It was early evening. We’d finished dinner but weren’t ready for  the bedtime routine so we decided to all head out and run an errand to the bookstore so I could get a new Bible Study book and a numbers poster for Nathan.

There was the usual hubbub of clearing dishes, finding shoes, and moving toward the door.

(Note: Why does it take so much effort to get just three people to the car with everything they need for only a 10 minute drive?!?)

I heard a little voice calling to me as I gathered my things, “Mama.” 

I hear that name so often. So frequently that my brain sometimes doesn’t even register it anymore, treating it instead like background noise of traffic or the air conditioning. But this time I heard and turned from grabbing my purse and said, “What Nathan?” And I saw him standing by the front door, his arm stretched high over his head.

He repeated, “Mama,” and then tapped his fingers on the lock.

Oh that lock. It is above the round door handle and he can barely reach it. He stretches up just enough to touch the bottom of it and can flip it from the up/down of locked to the horizontal position of being unlocked. The tantalizing brass and the feeling of moving a piece of machinery is like a magnet to this boy. He has not been able to help himself from touching it and flipping it. At first it wasn’t a big deal, I saw it as one more thing he was learning to do. But then I started looking over at the door at various times during the day and finding it unlocked. Not cool. I started telling him, “no touch.” He kept unlocking it. Frustration.

It finally became a time-out offense, which is the worst level of discipline in our house. I try to save it for danger or aggression. This certainly fell into the danger category. We cannot live in a house that may or may not be locked at the whim of a toddler and his love for mechanical things. I began to consistently make him re-lock the door and sit in time-out if he unlocked it without permission. This got very annoying when he would unlock it just before we needed to leave the house. I also worked to give him ample sanctioned opportunities to unlock it. I didn’t want him to feel like it was a privilege he couldn’t have, but instead a privilege that required permission. It got to the point that he didn’t even protest the time-outs. He knew he’d done something disobedient.

So in the middle of that ordinary bustling evening, the one small word and gesture meant so much more than they appeared. He was taking a big step forward on the bridge of self-control. Seeing that lock, knowing it needed to be unlocked and that he could do it, he stopped, waited, got my attention and asked permission. That’s big stuff when you are only two!

I gave him permission and then we had a mini party there in the entryway. High fives and congratulations. Kisses and hugs. Every job well done deserves to be celebrated. 

And like a true Mama, I got a little misty eyed as I thought about my boy growing older and in wisdom. Goodness gracious how I love him.

I don’t feel like I have adequate words to express what I want to say, which considering what it is seems strangely appropriate.

I did a lot of preparation for motherhood. I built on my natural mothering instincts, which were strong, with classes and books and an insatiable interest in what motherhood would bring. Our son’s cerebral palsy diagnosis put a different spin on these preparations and I’m not sure I was able to fully come to grips with what this new life would be like before he came home. But I soldiered on, and we all fell in love, and we’ve dug in and worked hard and been so rewarded. This has been a sweet year, beyond my imaginings in many ways.

But almost one year later, it’s beginning to be obvious which delays will be short-lived and which are probably around for the long-haul. And realizing this makes me catch my breath sometimes. And feel tired. Then I feel bad for being tired because I love my son so intensely and fiercely and it feels like a failure to admit this is so hard.

But the truth is, it’s so hard. It’s hard for all of us.

I long to have a conversation with him. A real conversation. He is a bright boy, and that’s not just coming from my say-so. His doctors and therapists marvel at him, estimating his development in almost all areas to be months to years above average. Having all those big boy thoughts and all those important memories trapped in a mind that is making it difficult to speak must be so frustrating. I know as the Mom I just wish I could fix it. I wish I knew what it was and could tackle the problem and make it go away. I’d get violent if I had to. For him, for me, for our family.

Until we can break through, we will make do with our dozens of signs and gestures and pointing and guessing. I will turn and look at him hundreds of times a day, making eye contact, suggesting words and ideas to see if that’s what he meant to tell me. I will repeat back the word for every sign so he can be sure I really understood. We will celebrate each new sound that makes it past those lips. And we will pray that God will open the channels from his mind to his voice so we can learn even more about this remarkable boy we call Son.