If you’ve had a toddler, you have probably experienced at least 1 tantrum. A lot of parents don’t know how to handle them because in my opinion they just don’t understand what they’re about. And they are usually a release of frustration over a human being’s first experience with the journey to independence. The fallacy that exists is that these tantrums remain almost exclusively in the age of the “terrible twos”. After you’ve had more than one child you realize that they do not end EVER.
As my 2 year old daughter begins her struggles with becoming independent, my 10 year old son, Ethan, is experiencing a period of heightened struggle of the same. Unfortunately, he was born into a world of materialism and also happens to have a personality that is materialistic. Every day there is something new that he wants and “needs”. And every day we battle as I earnestly strive to raise a child that will not be a spoiled brat.
I say a lot of Nos. I talk about gratitude for what one has. I threaten to throw every game system and computer in the trash. There are time-outs and groundings. . . . the job of teaching as a parent has become exhausting. And frustrating. If you know me, you know my passion for 2 things – my music and my children. And if you have seen me onstage, you understand how passionate my love is for my children.
I want to have good times with my children. I like to hear their thoughts and ideas about their world. I like to understand their personalities more. I genuinely want RELATIONSHIPS with them.
My 10 year old has to run laps in his PE class. They have a contest every year to see which kids will run the most laps over the course of the year. 2 years ago, Ethan began a personal goal to run as many laps as possible. And he was successful. And now he wants to be a runner.
When he was trying to gear up for a Fun Run at school, he wanted to run at our park down the street that has a quarter mile circle of sidewalk around it. I went with him. I walked most of the way and watched him run. There was something so freeing for me to watch him run – to see him break into his stride, set his pace and just BE.
We walked home together. We talked. There was no fighting. Just this common ground that we found together.
We have run together 2 times since then and I am determined to continue with it. It is a way that we can connect and remember that despite our struggles, there is still Love.
Through these past few weeks, I have started an exercise program. I got new running shoes. And in week 2, wore a bad blister on my heel. I have not given up, but the blister is a reminder of the struggle.It is a struggle to parent. It is a struggle to have a relationship with anyone. It is a struggle to set a goal for yourself and challenge yourself to work on that goal every single day.
But the lesson is that the struggle is where the rewards are. The struggle is where the learning begins and you move from one stage to another. If I give in to my toddler’s tantrums, she will never learn where boundaries are. She has to learn No somehow – and she cannot learn it without pushing boundaries or without me keeping those boundaries.
My 10 year old will never learn how to cope with the disappointments of this life without expressing what he wants, and then have that rejected sometimes. If I deny him the struggle, I am denying him the opportunity to learn and grow.
If I give in to my own disappointments and refuse to struggle for what I truly want, I will never have what I truly want. I won’t learn my own life lessons. I won’t find within the struggle that strengthening of character that I need to grow.
Today my son was frustrated we couldn't get something. We went to the park. The toddler played with the 9 year old in the sand. And we ran. Ethan was about to go for his last lap. He took a water break and said, "I'm going to run my fastest lap as the last one. The last one will be the best. Will you watch me?" I said, "I always do."
We came home. The boys got into a fight before bed and Ethan hit the 9 year old, then threw things at him and yelled at me. He's grounded for 2 weeks.
Struggle. Learning. Peace. Struggle. It is a cycle of Life. And that’s the great thing about Life. Lessons exist all around us. We don’t want the struggle. We don’t want the fight. But the end results are too good to miss out on.