Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Mandy's Turn...The Sun Above the Clouds

Mandy generously agreed to let me share her Facebook post from a few days ago. I've seen this progression in her relationship with her two precious, funny, exasperating-at-times, blessings from God. If it's true that there's a special place in Heaven for mothers of little boys, Mandy will surely be the honored gate keeper welcoming her comrades of giggles, tears, body sounds - that should remain private but rarely do - into their eternal Calgon-infused mansions.
I love you Mandy and no mom/nanny has ever been more proud.  

     "This has turned into a slightly longer post than I intended, but is one that I've been pondering for awhile... I hope it's encouraging! smile emoticon
Brendon and Big Brother Barrick
     I have many parenting fails, but wanted to share a success that was good positive reinforcement for me recently (and there have been more fails since:)...
     A few weeks ago, I had left my favorite coffee mug sitting on the edge of the tub... loved the colors of it, the shape, how it felt in my hand... I bypassed the 25 other coffee mugs we have for this one on a daily basis. Brendon (4) was in the bathroom with me and turned quickly, accidentally knocking the mug over and breaking it on the tile. I said quietly, "Ohhhhh, Brendon... that was my favorite mug!" He was already mortified and his little eyes filled up with tears, and he started crying and saying over and over, "I'm so sorry Mom, I'm so sorry!" For all of his orneriness, he is so very tenderhearted heart emoticon. I made the decision to stay calm and assured him, "Honey, it's okay. You're a lot more important to me than that coffee mug. I'm sure I can find another one like it, or maybe even the same one. It's okay, don't worry about it." He cried and apologized a few more times.
Brendon in his element
     A couple of nights later, it was close to bedtime, and he had set up his cars in a parking lot arrangement of sorts on his and Barrick's bed earlier in the evening. I was straightening up their room and told him two or three times he needed to get the cars cleaned up off of his bed, because it was bedtime, and he could set them up again the next day. He ignored me and kept playing with other cars (so many cars!:) in the floor. So I cleaned the ones off of the bed and put them away. A couple of minutes later he saw that the bed was clear, cars gone, and started to melt down. He really let me have it for a few seconds, very upset with me for moving his cars, then settled himself down and said, "Mom, it's okay... you're more important to me than those cars being on the bed." As many times as I've seen my negative reactions come back full circle when the boys act or talk in a way they've seen me act or talk (convicting!), how rewarding it was to see the positive reaction from the coffee mug incident mimicked and come back full circle as well. Encourages me to try that more often wink emoticon.
     To share a little more of my heart about Brendon to hopefully encourage some of you who have little ones packed full of passion and intensity...
Papa Bud, Barrick, Mandy and Brendon 2015
     Brendon and I had a challenging time with each other from before he was 18 months until he grew closer to 4 years old (he'll be 5 in Dec.). There were some sweet moments, but they were fewer and farther between. It was like the sky was almost always overcast, with the sun shining through in an occasional break in the clouds. From early on, he would bang his head into the tile floor or into the cabinets, or side to side in his carseat, when he was frustrated. He wanted something, but he didn't... but he did... but he didn't. He wanted me, but he didn't... but he did... but he didn't. It was a constant push and pull, a daily tug-of war. I was so often battle weary. His natural instinct was to be contrary, to resist (I've often said, it may save his life as a teenager if he still feels that instinct to not go along with what's being suggested. My less dominant side, the resistant, contrary side, was the dominant part of his personality.
     He was also constantly miserable with allergies, even with medication, and not old enough to just deal with it yet, so when he didn't feel good, he was mad at the world and there was no pleasing him. Before he was two, he would angrily rake at his nose and say, "Nose hurts! Take nose off!" Poor little guy. I was in tears frequently, and often cried with him or out-yelled him in an effort to shut down the fuss. I would cry to Ken and say, "I keep pouring in love, and all that's coming out is fits!" Brendon wanted to keep me engaged, but in an emotional mess kind of way. There were times I just had to disconnect and would turn from him and walk away, and he would be even more upset because he sensed that emotional disconnect in me. There was no winning. I recognized the passion that God had gifted (yes gifted) him with, but what's a mom to do with that in a 2-and 3-year-old? Many times I have said, if he can survive me, we'll see what God has planned for all of that passion.
Barrick's first piano recital with mom/teacher Mandy
     Fast-forward to these last few months as he's gotten further into year 4... The sky is mostly sunny and only occasionally overcast and stormy (hooray!). I've shared all of this to hopefully encourage any other parents out there with small, passionate children. As Brendon has gotten older, I can rationalize with him more in a way that you can't do with a baby or toddler. He doesn't like losing his privileges which helps motivate better choices on his part. The fits are fewer and farther between, instead of the other way around. And all of the love that I kept wearily pouring in during those hard years has been spilling back out the past year. Unsolicited "I love you's" and hugs and kisses. And all of the other gifts God has given Brendon are shining through more and more all the time... So much compassion, friendliness, love, concern, tenderheartedness, and much more.
     So with some thankful tears welling up in my eyes as I finish typing, if you're needing it, please be encouraged that the sun is most definitely brightly shining above the clouds if you have an intense little one and are in those challenging early years. Many of those things that are so hard now will become easier as they get older, simply because they are growing cognitively and learning how to manage things better. Keep pouring in the love even if all that is coming out is fits. It will eventually come pouring back out heart emoticon."

Mandy Sullivan Kniskern
October, 2015

The Kniskern Clan: Mandy, Brendon, Barrick and Ken

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