Yesterday was bad. Before 10am, I was holding a screaming, kicking, flailing, crying, very unhappy little girl. By 11am I had a calm, happy, apologetic little girl clinging onto my neck unwilling to let me go. About 12pm I was on the sidewalk with the same little girl, screaming so loudly that the neighbors (who live behind 9’ metal gates) came out to see what all the noise was about. I’m sure they thought some innocent child was being tortured……that was hardly the case. Amidst ramping up of screams, I quietly suggested “Uita, Uita” (look, look) and the second she saw the peering neighbors, she was so embarrassed she stopped, got down on her own two feet, took my hand and we walked quietly back to the disrupted church service. By 2pm she was fine again, but this time she was holding someone else’s hand and giving me a look that shot arrows. At 7pm the screaming began again, this time accompanied by the sweet pouting of her older brother who protested he was the only child being asked to go to bed early because of school starting the next day. For about 15 minutes, I had one child screaming and the other laying flat on the stairs, unwilling to move. It was pleasant. 😐 Welcome to “motherhood” I guess.
Today was different.
I wondered all week about the time we were supposed to be at breakfast, and questioned why on earth we would have to be there by ten minutes to six if the children didn’t have to go to school until 7:40am! We got up wicked early, Camille put on the clothes she’d laid out the night before, we put a bow in her hair and filled her bottle with water. Hudson, though he’d picked out his clothes the night before as well, tried on probably five different shirts, two or three pairs of pants and had to comb his hair a few times before he got it just right. We opened the door to a black driveway, and three scroungy scary dogs, who serve the roaming fury pests a big dose of “stay out of here or we’ll eat you” each night. We snuggled close and proceeded to walk (or try) to walk past the dogs to the main house….but they were jumping all around us. Camille clung tight and Hudson complained they were dirtying his clothes. We turned around and realized we had been ready an HOUR too early. Yes. We were supposed to be at breakfast at ten to seven, not six. (Time-warp back to when I was in grade school, this happened the first day of school many times. I would be completely ready and realize I’d been up an hour too early because I was so nervous. Apparently old habits don’t die easily.) One thing to note about school today, is that the public school opened with an outdoor service of the Roman Orthodox priest waving incense and chanting (most of which I did not understand) in a long black robe and gold sash around his neck. It was a pretty interesting cultural experience. If I wasn’t sure that it would be offensive, I would have gotten video.
We walked home, and almost as soon as we arrived, the screaming began again and I thought, “here we go again….” but soon after, something changed……
Most of the week, after she’d thrown a fit, she would hug me then run to another lady and be with her and shrug me off like I was a disease. It really hurt my heart to see this. It was clearly an intentional slap in the face, but what was I to do? But today, after a short tantrum, she not only kept close to me the rest of the day, but continued to come back and ask me to play with her. She wanted to teach me how to jump rope, wanted to show me books she liked, wanted me to help her with her food, wanted me to hold her on my lap and swing her around the yard, not letting any other little girl near me if they tried and then asked me to push her high on the swing. Her sweet little voice cried “Tare, tare!” and up she went, higher and higher I pushed her, until she was over my head and nearly out of reach. For the little girl who the day before wanted nothing to do with me, I was not about to let her hopes of a high ride down. Before long, she began to sing. At first I didn’t recognize the words and then they became clear, “I want to sing, sing, sing, I want to dance, dance, dance, I want to sing, I want to dance, PRAISE THE LORD!!!” Louder and louder she sang, as the higher she soared. I nearly cried it was so beautiful. From such terror yesterday to such joy today.
Tonight we read books together while Camille snuggled on my lap and flipped the pages and Hudson brushed my hair. Then we pulled out our new “Thanksgiving Journal,” which is our nightly ritual of writing down one thing each that we are thankful for from the day. We prayed quietly together and now the day has come to a close.
Though I’m sure we will have more difficult days ahead, I am so grateful for today. One thing I’ve been learning and trying to practice more of, is intentional prayer when these tantrums (and joys) happen throughout the day. When you have a screaming child in your arms, the first thing that comes to mind is “AHHHHH why can’t they just understand!?” but sooner and sooner each time my heart has been reminded to pray quietly but out loud through the day…..pray for calm, pray for the Spirit of God to come over her, pray for wisdom, pray for patience, pray for understanding, and everything else you need to be right for that moment of that child’s life. A few nights ago, Camille couldn’t sleep. I was about to head downstairs to pray, so I asked if she wanted to come, “YES!” she exclaimed, jumped up in my arms and we headed downstairs. She snuggled in close and was very quiet while I spoke my prayers over the house, over our friends, for our protection, for grace and for our families. Two days later, just spending time in the house, she was upset about something and instead of losing it, she took my hand and said, “Want to pray. Want to pray.” ….and HOW in the WORLD could I resist that invitation?
What is God inviting you into today?