{Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real} – Give the Toddler What She Wants

~Capturing the context of contentment in everyday life, as inspired by the women at Like Mother, Like Daughter~

{Pretty}

This time of year, we see some spectacular sunrises from our back deck, and we don’t even have to be awake very early to enjoy them. (I’m sure, if you were to cycle through my {pretty} photos from all of my PHFR, those that don’t feature my kids would mostly be taken from this same location – and I’m ok with that. We live in a lovely area, and I’m grateful for that.)

I love this time of year, with its reds and greens and golds. I love the powerful truths in traditional carols blared through speakers in shopping malls and department stores. And I love the wonder in a little girl’s eyes as she snuggles her sheep and listens to a Christmas concert.

(Confession. This wide-eyed moment of wonder was just that: a moment. Then, she was off and about, toddling up and down rows of chairs and charming everyone she met. Even so, it was a beautiful moment.)

{Happy}

“My letter!” said with all the possession and excitement a three-year-old can muster. She notices the letter K all over the place and is pretty excited each time she sees one, but this K was the K of all Ks.

Katie was all about decorating the tree this year, and Abby was all about pulling down the ornaments her sister had so carefully placed and high-tailing it out of there. (Actually, that’s not entirely true: while Abby had more fun UNdecorating the tree, she did give me a rather pleased-with-herself grin when one of the baubles she dropped in the general vicinity of the tree fell just right and caught a branch and thus was “hung.”)

Words? I have no words. These girls make my heart sing.

{Funny}

Mud puddles. Are there anything better in all the world? (Don’t answer that; it’s rhetorical.) Abby isn’t to the point of running through them yet, as Katie loves to do, but she does quite enjoy dropping pebbles into the water and throwing her arms up in victory at each splash.

Katie and I made an Advent paper chain to count down the days until Christmas – twenty-four links in all, in the hopes that it would give her a visual representation of time in this season of waiting. There was only one snag in my plan: when I asked her if she wanted to pull off one of the links in her chain, her response was, “Well, if we keep pulling them off, we won’t have a pretty chain anymore.” No amount of explanation could convince her otherwise; thus, our chain will remain intact.

This is what I get in response to, “Smile!” (At Jonathan’s suggestion, I showed it to her and asked if she wanted to take another one. “No,” she said. “It a good smile.”)

{Real}

Some days, when the baby toddler (ack – when did that transition happen?) is short on sleep and has had a rough week and screams bloody murder when you try to take her out of the wheelbarrow, you decide this is not the hill you want to die on, and you work around her desires. The chore might take much, much longer because of the reduced capacity of the wheelbarrow and the increased care required to load the wood, but her squeals of delight and her happy grins as she bounces up the hill make up for the hassle.

But this is my real moment for today: I hesitated, on that first trip down for wood, when I lifted her out of the empty wheelbarrow and set her on the ground and she reached up for me with tears streaming down her face. I hesitated before picking her up, wondering if I was being over-indulgent, if I was teaching her that throwing a fit was a way of getting what she wants, if I was taking the easy way out and would only regret it later.

But she’s only one (this, and “she’s only three,” are things I try to say to myself often, for I am prone to expecting them to behave like small adults). She’s only one, and she has few words, and the process of learning to regulate emotions is one that takes years. And so I scooped her up into my arms, and I kissed her chubby cheeks, and I encouraged her to “ask” for what she wanted, and, when she did, I deposited her back in her chariot. And all was right with the world.

I think this was the right parenting move (or, at least, not a wrong one). But, in my experience, so much of parenting is a feel-as-you-go, grasping-in-the-dark, doing-your-best-but-not-always-knowing-that-you’re-on-the-right-track kind of endeavor.

I don’t always know that I’m doing this thing right. But, with a lot of love and a lot of prayer and a lot of grace, I’m taking it one moment, one decision at a time, hoping God will fill in the gaps as my kids and I grow and learn together.

Those are the {pretty, happy, funny, real} moments around here lately. How about you? Capture any contentment lately?

 

Family and Parenting, This Thing Called Life

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