Have you ever reached that point with your kids where all you can think about is going to Chick-Fil-A because at least someone there thinks it is a pleasure to serve YOU?
After putting the couch cushions back on the sofa for the 100th time, we booked it to that magical land of cheeky cows and selfless employees and an hour of peaceful mealtime and playing.
The second we hit the indoor play area, the Happy Baby began pointing to the top of the play structure where the white Chick-Fil-A cow car hung. He pointed and grunted and waved his arms in desire to go up there. I encouraged him to climb the steps, but knew it would be super difficult for him to do.
There was another mommy sitting next to me who also had 2 children running around. She asked me how old the Happy Baby was. I told her that the Happy Baby was 2 and watched her look over my boy for several seconds.
She said that her child was 2 as well and I followed her gaze to a bouncy blond-haired girl who could have probably squished my 2-year-old with one of her big toes.
I immediately felt insecure.
Compared to her strong and energetic daughter who was running around, climbing up the play structure and coming down the slide 4 times in the same amount of time it took mine to climb one step, my boy’s physical weaknesses were kind of obvious.
I found myself blurting out how the Happy Baby has a muscle weakness and that is why he was having such a hard time doing what came so naturally to her same-aged daughter.
While I sat fretting and comparing over in the corner, the Happy Buddy was racing up to his little brother, pulling on his arm, trying to get him to climb the structure and get to the white car he had expressed such interest in initially.
I told my firstborn, “I love that you are trying to help your brother do what he wants to do, but I don’t think he can climb up there, pal. It is a lot of work for him. Go play. Your brother will hang here at the bottom.”
Because my kid is so obedient, he went straight back to pulling the Happy Baby’s arm, commanding his brother to climb up the structure with him.
It was starting to become a bit of an ordeal, so again I said, “Son, let your brother go. He can’t get up there.”
As I turned back to the other mom, I overheard the Happy Buddy in the background saying.
“You can do this, brother! You’re doing it! Look at you! You’re so strong!”
I glanced over toward the structure and saw the Happy Baby slowly climbing each stair with a big smile on his face as his brother coached him from behind.
Next thing I knew I was whipping out my camera and taking a photo of the two of them up in the cow car.
Later that day as I was putting the couch cushions back on the couch again and thinking about the mom at Chick-Fil-A and the Happy Baby’s victory, the Lord revealed something to me.
While I had been busy focusing on my son’s weaknesses, the Happy Buddy had been busy coaching his brother beyond them.
And you know what? My sweet little boy doesn’t say much, but he hears EVERYTHING.
He probably heard me telling that mom about his ‘hypotonia’ and thought the same thing.
He probably thought he would never make it up that jungle gym.
His thoughts were limited by what I told him he could do.
Until someone came and told him otherwise.
When I tell my child, “You are weak,” he will more than likely think he is weak.
When we tell our child, “You’re a bad boy!” he will more than likely think he is, indeed, bad.
When we mention to the other moms at the pool, “My child is small for her age,” she might start feeling like something is wrong with her.
Or how often do we say, “He’s my wild child,” to everyone and anyone who interacts with us.
Even the toddler clothing industry doesn’t help us with the onesies and T-Shirts offering helpful phrases across the chest like, “Mommy’s Little Monster” or “Here Comes Trouble.”
Those kinds of words only set them up for a life of living at the bottom of the playground.
Or staying the monster his onesie says he is.
I’m thinking Gideon’s mom must have put him in a onesie that said, “Not good enough.”
Because Gideon thought he was the ‘weakest and the least in his father’s house’ when an angel of the Lord paid him a visit (Judges 6:15).
But God called him a ‘mighty man of valor’.
And with that encouragement, Gideon ended up playing a critical role in the deliverance of Israel from idols and enemies.
We must begin to view our children not as under the law of sin and death (you are a bad boy, you are weak, you are a monster) or what our world has cast as a standard for them (your child’s size, development, diagnosis, looks) but view them as under the umbrella of God’s grace and love (you are a good boy who made a bad choice, you are a mighty warrior, you can do this – God is with you, you are a daughter/son of the King, you are beautiful, you are fearfully and wonderfully made).
Our call as mommies is to remind our children (over and over and over again) who they really are.
Who God tells them they are.
So when the Happy Buddy speaks unkindly to his brother, I try to remind him that that is not who he is. I’ll say, “You are not a mean boy. You are loving and you care deeply for your brother.”
When I ask the Happy Buddy to help me bring in the groceries, if he obeys (woohoo!), I will say, “Wow, you are a helper. Thank you.”
When one of my kids takes initiative to brush his own teeth, put clothes in the hamper, clean up toys without me reminding them – and, let’s be honest, this happens about as often as presidential elections – I say with a boatload of enthusiasm, “You are responsible!“
When we go to bed at night I pray prayers of thanks that my boys are learning to be obedient young men (even if we had a day of consequences and time-outs and mommy hiding out in the bathroom).
I always tell my boys before bed (something I learned from one of the video messages in Beth Moore’s Breaking Free study),
“I believe you have what it takes to be a great man and I am so proud to be your mama.”
And the Happy Buddy recently taught me how important it is to remind his little brother that he is STRONG in the Lord.
These kinds of words bring life and truth to my children’s hearts so that when they are faced with the jungle gyms of life, they won’t be stuck at the bottom believing that they don’t have what it takes.
So make it your mission to cheer your kids up the obstacles of this playground of a world.
– Julie 🙂