Lucas is my middle child, and he is a picture of extremes. He is so funny, so charming, so sweet and loving and snuggly. He is our entertainer and always keeps us laughing. But man, that kid knows how to push every button I have. And then push it some more. I never understood when my friends talked about their strong-willed children, but I sure do now. If you looked up "boundary-pusher" in the dictionary, you would see his big, goofy grin - and then see the contraband hidden behind his back.
Slobbery and clumsy and perpetually naughty - Luke is my child who is just a little harder to love.
He is sneaky - always taking things from drawers and cupboards and my purse. He ate a leftover Blizzard for breakfast the other morning while I was upstairs changing Madelyn and snuck the empty cup back into the freezer. Took a pack of gum out of my diaper bag and ate half e pieces before I even noticed he had gotten too quiet. And just now, after being spanked once already for getting out of bed at nap time, he found a tube of diaper rash cream and squeezed it ALL OVER his bedroom. I know every kid does these things (I have plenty of photographic proof of Eli's nap time escapades at his age). And they make for some funny stories down the road. But with Lucas, I don't know... I'm just tired of his nonsense.
And Luke is tough to discipline. Everything that worked beautifully with Eli bounces right off of him. He reacts "appropriately" while he's being disciplined (meaning, I don't think he's a sociopath), but often is right back at his naughtiness ten minutes later. And trust me, we're no lightweights when it comes to discipline. I follow through on consequences. We have a spanking spoon and we know how to use it.
Today I felt so unloving toward my sweet little boy. As I hate-scrubbed the carpet I sobbed to my husband, "I think there's something WRONG with him! Like, I think his CHARACTER is flawed!" (Cue husband literally backing slowly down the stairs, wishing he had never come up to investigate.) And immediately, God put a picture in my mind. Several pictures, actually - of me. Doing bad things. Stupid things. Sinful things. Over, and over, and over again. Me, ignoring past consequences and painful discipline and running headlong towards the same obviously wrong choices.
Of course there is something wrong with him. Of course his character is flawed. He's a person. And he needs his mama to train him up into how to be a better, wiser, more God-centered one.
He still makes me crazy.
So here's where you come in, all of you darling, wise mamas out there. What is your best advice for getting to the heart of a child like mine? And how do you handle that angry, pulling-out-your-hair frustration that comes with parenting? Lay it on me - even if I've heard it before, I can stand to hear it again.
Now if you'll excuse me, I've got a sad little guy to go make up with.