The events I have been writing about over the last few weeks allowed me to begin to see life differently with my daughter, Caroline. But, what did that actually mean? How was this new perspective going to manifest itself in my daily attitude and activities? Well, it primarily manifested itself through my attitudes in the midst of my activities.
I felt a difference first in my ability to tolerate childlike things. I found that I was having a greater patience for the whining, the crying, and the moodiness that accompanies young children. My child was no different than other kids her age and exhibited all the same behaviors that get on adult's nerves….it's just that I wasn't reacting the same way. I was better able to see past the display to the root cause whether it be fatigue, hunger, or frustration.
In addition to tolerance through patience, I found that I was extending her larger amounts of grace. Spilled the milk….again? Okay, not a problem. Kids do those things. Pulled the computer off the desk and sent it crashing to the floor? That happens. It was my fault for leaving it somewhere to attract your curiosity to the point of trying to get at it. Wiped yogurt into the carpet in an attempt to paint? (Deep breath), Okay, actually, that was pretty creative using what you had available. Not where I would have liked, but I can clean that up. In extending this grace over time in these types of situations I became aware of two things in and around me.
First, I became aware of a greater sense of wanting to understand Caroline. I was getting onto her level more emotionally and trying to see things from her young perspective and this helped me have more patience, to see more humor in situations, and have more fun with her. Frustration and exasperation were being replaced with tolerance and, well, joy. Hard to believe but true.
Second, I was becoming more and more aware of other parents who had never made this switch. The angry parent berating the little girl in the store for spilling her drink quickly caught my attention. The crying dark haired little boy withstanding a tongue-lashing about not interrupting tugged at my heart. The little boy held in place by the arm as he withstood a spanking for not saying thank you. What young child says thank you on a regular basis?
It was almost as if God was allowing me to see where my old attitude might have taken me. It wasn't that I physically did some of those things, but I wanted to. Like most parents toward their children, I secretly wanted to yell at Caroline or blister her rear-end on occasion. I held myself back, but I wanted to. Now, however, I didn't have those feelings nearly as often and seeing other parent's lose their tempers with their kids further reinforced my choice of having more tolerance and empathy for my own. My attitudes and my actions were beginning to be more in sync - and I was finding more enjoyment in my time with Caroline.