Pushing Them through The Tears

Once in a while as parents, we have to do things we don’t like with our children in order to bring out a greater good. In my family it involves a lot of kicking and screaming and whining.

And then there’s the kids’ reaction. 

Shock of all shocks, my kids are a lot like I was as a kid. Crazy how genetics work, huh? And what an amazing built-in parenting tool this can be! I have identified that 75% of my children respond to new situations almost identical to the way I would have. Find the nearest rock and situate yourself comfortably underneath it. Wait for situation to pass and shyly come out. Breathe sigh of relief. Rinse and repeat.

While I understand how they work and know how to work with them to bring out their best attributes, I can’t help but bemoan that EACH. AND EVERY. NEW. SITUATION. comes with crying, whining, and outright refusal. I have to choose to endure the pain {metaphorical Brill-O pad  for purgatory, perhaps?} of their not wanting to do x, y, or z because I know deep down, they not only really do want to do it, they would come to love the new experience and would be good at it.

That’s one fast fish!

So I want to share two quick stories with you – one involves tossing the kids in the swimming pool and listening to {and often paying for} swim lessons that came with blood curdling screams and raised eyebrows that make onlookers question whether CPS should be called – AT – the swim place, mind you…only to quit, give up lessons until years later where said children learned how to swim – one of whom shocked the owner of a well renowned swim place with her pace of learning, going through two rigorous and thorough courses, Nitro 1 and Nitro 2 in a record less than six months, mastering all four swim techniques.

She made the local swim place e-newsletter

The other story involves screams and wails and cries {and asking Father Jonathan to please assure our own son Jonathan that everything would be ok} having to do with altar server training. Sometimes…just sometimes? You know your child is meant to live out that service oriented heart…but shyness attacks their ability to do something they would otherwise love doing. Recognizing this, I became his training wheels and encouraged him through negotiations.

Ok, Jonathan, I’m deciding that you will do the training, but you can decide if and when you serve. The training is only offered once this year. Let’s make a deal – if you do the training, I will not force you to serve. You can choose that, but I will decide that you do the training today. 

Peer led training by a fellow altar boy – here he is learning how to properly receive the gifts.

He, reluctantly through the tears, walks off to try on the different sized cassocks and attend the training. I have a five week old bebe with me and me and my husband and our littlest hang in the pews off to the side to avoid his laser beam death glare. He got that from me, too, by the way. The training ends. I hold my breath. I wonder if it took. I hesitate to ask how he liked it, so I talk about everything else. Later that evening, he comes up to us and casually says {roughly paraphrased} I don’t know if I want to be a priest, but I think I’d like to be a deacon. Not much later, he asked how soon we could take him to Mass to start his training {he had to attend and observe five Masses before being allowed to wear the surplice}.

One of his favorite jobs – candle bearer.

THEN he said he wanted to attend as many Masses as possible so he could get his surplice – that meant two weekends of attending Mass twice. That’s when we knew he was excited. Not once has he ever said Mom, I’m so glad you made me cry and I fussed and threw a fit. That part was AWESOME! but through his actions, he has made it clear that because we insisted on the training, the rest was left up to him and he acted in accord with God’s will. He has since become responsible for getting himself ready and at church a half hour early. He knows what Mrs. George expects of his behavior and he enjoys the quiet time to reflect, pray, and opportunities to talk with our priests about vocations.

Jonathan holds the prayer book for Father Jonathan as he prays for all the dads on Father’s Day.

I have found through experience that while I ultimately place their vocation in God’s hands, my husband’s and my responsibility is to provide our children with the opportunities to see all vocations in action. If they have questions, our job is to answer them and to pray for them and to encourage them to continually seek out God’s calling. And they will rise to the occasion if we provide them those opportunities.  How do you know? With my kids, it’s the kinds of questions they ask. And they ask doozies. One day he casually asked Mom, what’s the difference between making a decision and discerning? And God immediately put in my mouth to answer back with something he could digest at his level – you discern your vocation, you decide on a loaf of bread at the store. 

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