The Spiritual Answer

Ivan was ready with the spiritual answer tonight on the way to church.

Owen had informed me that he enjoys eating in the van. He has been given this opportunity one time and has since brought it up in order to let me know what a great time he had. I decided to see if he could verbalize why this was so great and asked him to tell me why he liked it so much. He replied that it was fun. I asked him if he could tell me why it was so fun and before he could answer Ivan yelled from the seat beside him…”JESUS MAKES IT FUN!”


It’s funny how an ordinary day can become extraordinary in the matter of hours. Not that anyone else would notice in this case but for Ivan, and me too, today has become special. First of all he had his very first dentist appointment and not only did he walk away with the knowledge of how beautiful his teeth are, he was remarked on over and over for his good patient skills. He was brave and patient and made his mommy very, very proud. He felt like a big boy I think and maybe all that inspired him in what transpired a little later.

The boys and I were eating our lunches and Ivan had stopped eating and seemed to be goofing off so I prompted him to eat. He said, “but I have to go potty.” We quickly ran to the potty where he did his deed and then wanted as little assistance as possible with clean up and dressing himself. It doesn’t sound that remarkable I know, but really…it’s huge. First of all he told me that he had to go. Not that he hasn’t done it before, but it’s rare and most of his success up to now has been largely due to my prompting him to go and threatening him if he didn’t. Secondly, He knew what he had to do. He didn’t haphazardly plop himself on the potty or carelessly stand and stare at it waiting for something to happen. He purposefully got himself ready and maintained his focus on what he was there to do. Thirdly, he got himself dressed. Part of my concern with Ivan and how long all this was going to take has been his lack of desire to be independent. He’s strong willed and independent in thought, but he wants to be babied a lot. I can’t do it forever and I’ve been so tired of it. It isn’t that I can’t make him do things for himself. I know what he’s capable of and I insist on him doing those things most of the time. But when a capable person forces you to force them to do things…it’s very draining. I finally saw that spark of “I can” in him. That desire to move on and be a big boy.

Lord knows I’ve heard over and over how quickly they change, how we shouldn’t push them to grow up and to savor these baby years. I’ve surely done enough savoring by now. I cannot savor what is flat out rebellion to growing up just because he’s jealous of his baby brother, or angry that we moved into a different house. That isn’t worth savoring. I’m not talking about wanting to cuddle or crying when he’s hurt. I’m talking about obvious hurt and anger that stems from rage for what’s going on around him and manifesting in a refusal to cooperate with the rest of the family. I feel for the poor kid. Middle child syndrome and all that, believe me, I know…I was the middle child too. Sensitive and melancholy, deeply wounded by any unfair treatment and wholeheartedly wrong in many of my conceptions of the intentions of my parents and siblings. I do not want for him some of the misery I allowed myself and I desperately want to teach him early the things I’m still grasping now. Give more than you expect back and never treat people fairly…treat them better than they deserve and don’t ever, ever, ever expect to be treated at a level you deserve. Be confident in one thing only…that the God of the universe, the God who made a world from the sound of His voice…that God thinks you are INCREDIBLE. None of the rest of it matters. How I wish I could inject that into his brain right now and he could build on that foundation for the rest of his life. For now…I sing Jesus Loves Me and load him up with affection and affirmation and I do not savor his selfish, babyish moments. I battle them as if they are threatening his life. Because they are.

He put the last piece of puzzle in his 100 piece panda puzzle today. He has done so well. I’m almost convinced that he’s a graduate of potty training but I think I’ll pull out one last challenge for him and see what happens. He’s really doing it.