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audience

i have a gift. i call it the gift of small audience.

There was a time in Cape Town a few years ago when i was one of the 5 or 6 speakers youth groups and Christian school groups would call on for talks and camps and it felt really good – like i had huge opportunity to make a difference – to impact hundreds of young people across Cape Town and beyond as the opportunities came.

At the same time i was running a youth group that consisted of maybe 1 to 8 people. Who mostly just stared at me a lot.

That didn’t always feel that good… or that successful at least. Something along the lines of “a prophet is unwelcome in his own town” or something like that which you cling to when things don’t look at that successful. [Maybe you’re just really bad at running youth groups? Nah, sh! It can’t be that.]

Picture of prophet

When you live in a world and system which judges success in one way [usually numbers, big events, wide reach, that kind of thing] and you see life happening in another way, you suddenly end up as lonely contemplative prophet sitting under a tree by yourself wondering where all the crowds are.

You know someone else who had a small audience? Jesus. That’s right. Oh sure he pulled in the crowds when He was multiplying bread and fish, turning water into exquisite wine and raising the dead… but when He started talking about His Kingdom and what it meant to be a follower… suddenly, crickets.

NO, I’M NOT SAYING I’M JESUS [just so we’re clear]

When the Kingdom message became one of enemy love… or when Jesus spoke about denying yourself, taking up your cross every day and following someone who is not you… when the stories were about the hated Samaritans being the example of Love well demonstrated or about everyone hating you because of Me or selling everything you have and giving it to the poor and then following… well then the crowds started to thin. Drastically.

And when Jesus was arrested and being associated with Him might mean joining Him in the crucifixion, well even His closest friends were nowhere to be seen [those that weren’t denying they knew Him at all]

‘Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – His good, pleasing and perfect will.’

[Romans 12.2-3]

Just yesterday i was listening to someone give a talk to a group of media people. He knew my parents well, but i didn’t even know if he knew me or not. Suddenly, in the middle of his talk, he mentioned my name  and said some really encouraging stuff about some stuff i had been writing/saying in the nineties. i was blown away.

The immense power of words of encouragement or affirmation from an unlikely source. “Just keep on doing what you’re doing. Don’t worry about the response.”

hemustbecomegreateriless1.jpg

Truth in Love. That is what we are called to. And it is such a delicate balance to get right. To be fair, through my life i have probably erred on the side of Truth more often than Love, although i think a do a lot better these days. A lot of other people tend to err on the side of something that is mistaken for Love which might look like reassurance or comfortability or compromise or a number of other things.

i’m not sure what i’m trying to say here. i certainly am not fishing for a bunch of people to jump on and tell me how well i’m doing at life so please don’t do that. i do want us to be aware of how powerful positive words and affirmation can be in the lives of those around us and so where there are other people you know who maybe speak a Truth in Love that is not popular or well received, please find moments to appreciate them and quietly cheer them on.

i also want to encourage you if you are someone who is desperately seeking the Truth of life and following Jesus, but feels like you’re swimming against the current, to keep going. Don’t compare yourself to the people around you – compare yourself to the Truth Jesus taught and lived and called us to. If it doesn’t involve denying yourself and choosing to die daily to self and actively follow Him, then it’s probably not Truth.

While i believe the majority of people are on the wrong path [read Matthew 7, it’s something i feel Jesus believed as well] i am well encouraged by the so many people i know in Cape Town, around South Africa and all over the world, who are genuinely wrestling with Truth and actively trying to follow Jesus in ways that cost them time and money and reputation and make things harder and uncomfortable and confusing and messy.

God sees you. 

He knows you.

Don’t give up.

Forget looking for the signs that the world holds up of success. But listen for the sounds of the Kingdom. On earth as it is in heaven.

Be aware of those who are hungry and thirsty and lonely and in prison and in danger and marginalised and Love them as best you can.

Always remember that it is always about Love – that is the greatest commandment.

Where a prophet comes in, i think, is when there is a need for someone to look at the way things are presently in the world [and in the church] and come to the conclusion that, “This Does Not Look Like Love” and “What Are We Going To Do About It?” 

Well? What are you presently doing about it? With your time, with your money, with your life in general?

Run strong, my friend, and swim against the tide…

fish

Not too long ago i shared a list of 10 Things i struggle to get my mind around

This was quite a varied lists of topics and included such items as pineapple on pizza, litter [special mention to cigarette butts out car windows], people’s confusion with regards to four way stops, recent Adam Sandler movies [bonus cameo by Will Ferrell], the ‘joke’ insult, make-your-best-friend-look-and-act-like-a-tit bachelor party vibes, the difference between adopted children and real children, why it seems so important to everyone else that tbV and i want children [when we don’t], the amount of homelessness in South Africa compared to the amount of golf courses we have [1047 apparently], and the fees that soccer/football players get paid [with honourable mention to movie actors, singers, politicians, CEOs etc etc].

But turns out there are some more things i don’t quite understand [who would’ve thought?] and so here is my list of 10 More Things i Don’t Quite Understand… Which one do you resonate with the most? 

[10] Pickles

Burger with pickles on

Urgh, please stoppit! i know i gave cooked pineapple center stage last time but this one is probably actually worse for me. i could maybe queasy myself through a cooked pineapple if there was something to be polite about, but pickles are a much harder one. STOP PUTTING THEM ON MY BURGER. And possibly even # gasp # worse than raiSINs in this regard cos once a thing has had pickles in the taste is there for life – you remove the pickles and give me the burger and it still tastes disgustingly like pickle aka gerkhin. Please, for the love of food, STOPPIT!

[9] Hating raiSINS but only in things or out of things.

Now if you have known me for any length of time, there is a huge likelihood that you will know of my hatred of raiSINs. Yes, you may think you hate them, but not as much as me. Oh really? Did you write and record TWO anti-raiSIN songs? [Or notice that the word SIN is very obviously nestled there right in the middle of the word] Or have an evening raiSIN-burning ceremony in a back garden one time? Okay you get it, i lead that race.

garfield

i LOVE that Garfield hates them too. And actually a decent amount of other cartoon characters as well, do some research.

And it is not so much raiSINs that i don’t understand – i just hate them. Do you let an apple go black in the sun and then proclaim it the kind of food worth sticking into every dessert? Urgh, you probably would, hey? But where my confusion lies is in the two kinds of people you get who say they hate raiSINs, but… Those people i don’t understand.

“I hate raiSINs, but I can eat them by themselves.”

“I hate raiSINs, but I can eat them in things.”

i have met both types of people on many occasions and i just do. not. get. it. Pick a side. Stop straddling the fence. i’ve even met someone who said they hated raiSINs but could eat them with peanuts. WHAT? Mind blown. Just stoppit.

Oh, and i also started the ‘i hate raiSINs’ group on facebook and if you’re a true believer then you should really join. But none of you “I hate them, but…” people.

[8] Lateness without alert.

i must admit that i struggle to not be late sometimes. Someone pointed it out as a character trait of an extrovert in a sense of trying to cram as much stuff into the space of time available as possible, which really resonated with me. But it is not cool to be late and i am trying to be better at not being late

But Capetonians [in particular] seem to take it to another level. And my not understandingness here is more along the lines of possessing the knowledge that you are going to be late and doing nothing with it. So being late is still rude and i own that and need to do better. But if i am going to be late i will send a Watapp or drop a text or send out one of my carrier pigeons or something to let the person being lated upon know. Does that make it okay? No, unless you’ve been in a  car accident or just helped someone give birth on the pavement, it is still generally not okay. But it makes such a huge difference when you have the courtesy [cos it is just plain and complete rudeness to not] to at least let the person who will be waiting for you know, that they will be waiting.

Some people i know are serial laters and just seem to have absolutely no clue or care at all. i was at the party of a friend where we waited for more than 40 minutes for a booked meal and the people didn’t even pitch up at all [some came really late but some didn’t even show] and gave my friend absolutely no warning or message to say “Go ahead without us.” It feels like absolute rudeness to know you are going to be late for something and not to tell someone.

This is an area many of us can do better on. So lets. And work on the lateness as well.

late

[7] Technology Abuse

Last night tbV and i popped into a restaurant for a quick snack after a long day and she drew my attention to the table behind me. Four people and three of them were deeply engrossed in their phones. i don’t get that and both tbV and myself have worked hard at reducing the negative impact that technology has on our relationship, especially at home and in the bedroom. i understand how easy it is for people to get caught up in that stuff but it is important to get to a place where you control technology and it does not control you.

When we have held our Deep Dive Conversation Dinner we have introduced the idea of the Phone Basket [which we have used at other family events as well to good effect] where everyone mutes their phone and sticks it in a basket as they arrive and gets it back when they leave. Intentional focus on the conversation at hand and removing distraction.

i love the idea i heard about of people in a restaurant putting their phones in the middle of the table and the first person who reaches for their phone any time during the meal foots the bill. A few rounds of that and some people might learn. If you are choosing to be with me [like you meet me somewhere for coffee] then be with me. If you have something more important to do or someone else you’d rather chat to or a wrong number you will even give preference to then rather go somewhere else and be with someone else.

[6] Phone light in the movies aka Technology Abuse II

This could be a whole post in itself. i don’t get to see as many movies as i used to and so it typically is a bit of a special event when it happens. Advert time is okay because get your stuff done. Trailer time and things are starting to get dangerous cos anyone who knows me well knows i proclaim trailer time as the most important time or as important as the movie. But once the movie has started you had better have your phone closed, muted and tucked away in your pocket, because if that thing lights up and i have something throwable [i am not advocating violence – i’m talking soft and bouncy more than likely] it will be aimed at your head and i am not the best shot so think of those sitting two rows behind you!

This makes me really mad. i paid a lot of good money to be in that movie and i assume you did as well so if you would rather be on your phone then save yourself the money and if you don’t want me getting verbally aggressive on you then keep it off and away and for the love of the movie experience make sure you have turned all the bits that make sound off. And if you don’t know how to mute your phone then you don’t qualify for being able to watch movies.

i once had a guy sitting next to me in a movie answer a call from a friend loudly in the movie where he was sitting. It was between Baptist Summer Camps and we were in Kimberley and he was a huge farmer type and it was a Leon Schuster movie so no great loss. But in any other movie just no.

[5] People who talk or text on their phones while driving

phone

This is a bit of a tricky one cos, being a guilty villain, more so in the past, i completely understand the why of it. But having witnessed accidents and near misses and people on phones driving ridiculously and realising myself the lack of concentration that goes into a phone moment no matter how good you think you are this one should be a no brainer.

Know that if you are caught on your phone anywhere in the vicinity of a peppermint green coloured Hyundai Getz there is a HUGE likelihood that either tbV or myself will let you know that we are not a big fan in a variety of ways that might involve LOUD HOOTING, Angry Fist, Shake of Head or a combination of those and more.

i have really tried to cut it out completely myself. THERE IS NO EXCUSE. It is dangerous and it costs lives. If, in some rare moment, where i deem the need to shoot off this quick text and you catch me, i more than expect and welcome and encourage you to LOUD HOOT, Angry Fist, Shake of Head or a combination of those in my direction. It is not okay. This one freaks me out. Whatever excuses you are giving yourself, STOPPIT STOPPIT STOPPIT. It can wait. It can always wait. And if it can’t then pull over as i often do, send off that quick text and then carefully get back on the road again.

It is just not worth it. Ever. Think of yourself as a potential murderer, cos there is every likelihood. If you do it with a child in your car, that makes you an unfit parent right there.

Wow. That escalated quickly.

[4] The amount of pee on the floor around public toilets.

Seriously people, or at least guy people, that’s a lot of pee. How about we pretend we’re at your house for a moment. Or your friend’s house. Or a public toilet. It works the same. Aim for the hole.

Toilet signs

[3] People who make their minds up before asking the question.

i enjoy meat, but have also felt uneasy about a lot of what goes into getting meat to my table. Recently i invited a number of my Vegetarian friends to share their stories of why they became Vegetarian and challenged some friends to join us in a week of meat-free-ness as tbV and i were much challenged by the stories we read. i don’t have a problem with people who ask the question [Let me take a look at how meat gets to my table] and then chooses to continue eating meat as much as i do with people who never ask the question. One reason we didn’t ask for so long [and there are still some questions we are probably too afraid to ask right now] was because we feared the answer would mean us having to give up meat, but if the answer was for us to give up meat then we really needed to ask the question and see. As opposed to burying our heads in the sand.

This is just one example – when it comes to conversations about ‘White Privilege’ so many white people have a strong negative reaction before they take the time to really hear what we are talking about [and often have a completely different understanding of the term and idea than the one we are talking about] and it is so confusing for me to see conversations end before they have even begun. Ask the question. And then stand by your answer.

Is there a God? Is Christianity the way to connect with Him? Is religion important or necessary at all? At least ask the question. I can deal with your atheism or agnosticism a lot easier if i know you have gone there. And for many people who are Christian because their parents were or cos you’ve always gone to church, you need to be asking the question too. Believe what you believe because you believe it, not just cos it’s always been there.

[2] How you can be South African and not know an African language [preferably the predominant one in the area where you live] at least in part.

This is a tough one. i think i’ve known it for like forever but couldn’t say anything cos i was chief guilty party. And still am. BUT am working on changing it as this week tbV and i signed up for Xhosa classes finally. i have also always known enough isiXhosa to get by in the initial “Hi. How are you? My name is… Where are you from?” moments of conversation, but as someone wanting to explore having a voice in the present area of Race and Reconciliation and Unity and Restitution, it is essential that i look to educate myself in this area, at least a little. It is terrifying [fear of failure – what if i don’t ‘get’ it?] and exhilarating all at once. It is worth both the time and money investment. Do it! Check out Xhosafundis.co.za if you are in Cape Town and want to learn. There are many other places too.

[1] An immediate response to posting this really helpful piece on the #BlackLivesMatter movement:

blacklivesmatter

which was from a person i don’t even know first hand [cos you know, Facebook!] who simply responded with the words:

All Lives Matter.

And then proceeded to argue with me about why she was not completely missing the point by saying that.

In a nutshell, the idea is that all lives do matter. BUT no one is suggesting or has ever suggested really that white lives do not matter. Whereas History is full of ideas, systems and laws that express or work out the idea that black lives do not matter. So when there is a campaign and a movement that rallies itself under the banner of #BlackLivesMatter it is pretty much asking the question, “Can we say that black lives matter as well?” Jumping directly in with a response of All Lives Matter refuses to acknowledge the hurt, racism, onesidedness of the past or to suggest for a moment that maybe it’s good for us to spend some time on raising up black lives to the same level that white lives have been viewed/experienced etc.

When Cecil the lion was killed, no one was holding up signs saying ‘All Animals matter.’ All animals do matter but at that moment, it was not the point.

#BlackLivesMatter [as i see it] is about taking time to listen and really hear and try to understand [as best as it is possible for someone who doesn’t live it] and about being an ally to a group of people whose lives have not mattered as much as white lives in the media or entertainment sphere or politically or just in the day to day.

= = = = = = = = = = = = = = =

i would LOVE to know which of these resonated with you the most [if the last 10 list i did is anything to go by it will be the Pickles] and which one you disagree with and what, after 20 things, you think is still missing in terms of something you don’t understand. Leave your thoughts in the comments section under this post. Thank you. 

Also a lot of the points had links to blog posts which describe aspects of the post more deeply so when you have some time go and explore some of those as well.

[To check out my first list of 10 Things i Don’t Understand, click here] 

Micropoem: closed

closed

your words

tell me

you are

listening

but your

manner

suggests

to me

you have

already

decided what

you are

going to

hear

[For more of my Micropoems, click here]

This is a post that Belinda Mountain has generously allowed me to use. Make sure you click through to her blog ‘Making Mountains’ (out of molehills) which i link to at the end of this piece:

Pic of Belinda Mountain and family

Lessons in Humility

We’re back. And I wish I could say that I’m super relaxed from a lovely lazy holiday but actually my nerves are shot, my back muscles are all tensed up and my parenting chi is completely in tatters. Why? (you may ask). A 2-year-old that’s what. Let me begin my ‘Lessons in Humility’ story with the accompanying image..Lessons in Humility

That is Ben. A little boy sitting on a very big bench having a time out as he gazes over the hills of the Drakensberg.

Below him you will find some groups of adults attempting to play lawn bowls. One group was my family and another was a group of English tourists who probably didn’t imagine that they would be terrorised by a badly behaved two-year-old. They’ll head back to London and tell their friends that South African children are REALLY badly behaved. I cringe.

They are trying to have a civilised game of bowls and sip on a G&T but a tow-headed toddler in a blue shirt keeps stealing the little white ball or moving their black balls or getting in the way when they are trying to throw. He does NOT want to play with the spare set of bowling balls given to him specifically for this purpose. No, he wants to play with the real thing obviously. And then he has a tantrum when his mother stops him. And another one. And another one. He lies on the field and kicks his little legs and screeches and rolls around until after the third time, he gets removed to a bench where he contemplates his behaviour, apologises (Sowee Marmy) and then proceeds to do it all. over. again.

But this doesn’t just happen on the bowls field. It happens on the croquet field and when some strangers are playing tennis and when a little girl is kicking her own ball on the lawn. And it doesn’t just happen with balls. It happens when another toddler plays with “his” Lego (not his at all, belonging to the resort) or when he can’t have cereal for dinner or when I try and pick him up on a walk to the waterfall.

I carry him thrashing in my arms through a crowded dining room full of strangers and feel all of my confidence that I have finally got the hang of this parenting lark crumble off into bits. I am completely humbled. Because my inability is on show for all to see, there is no hiding from it. I want to crawl under the table behind the table cloths and pretend he belongs to someone else.

But I don’t of course. I pick him up and rock him to and fro and whisper in his ear and try calm him down. I claim that he is mine and when an older (very well meaning) lady asks me “Shame, is he sick? Or tired?” I answer with honesty and say that No, he is just two and a little angry and frustrated at life.

It’s a phase! (all the books say). But that doesn’t mean that I’m not going to question what I’m doing wrong here. I’m quite consistent with discipline but the ‘time out’ that worked so well for Rachel does not appear to be working one little bit. Ben will sit on that bench dutifully but does not appear unhappy about being admonished at all. In fact, he seems to view it as a bit of a game.

What’s comforting me is that he hasn’t been THAT badly behaved before. His tantrums are pretty limited when he’s at home and when he is going to school and is in his routine. He’s mostly a happy agreeable little guy who is loving and funny and behaves like a typical little boy I think. But there’s something about being on holiday, surrounded by lots of other kids, and having me at his beck and call (i.e not at work or away from him) that brings out the worst in him. His tantrums never appear in front of teachers or his nanny Norma or parents of his friends – they seem to be directed squarely at ME, his mother, and I feel like this is my fault.

I was humbled this weekend and embarrassed. Fellow parents are wonderfully understanding people but I’m quite a shy person and don’t like to cause a scene and my child put me SEVERELY out of my comfort zone these last two days.

I need to buy some books on this issue or do some research. You’ve given me some wonderful advice before on a previous post I wrote. But ignoring him doesn’t tend to work. And acknowledging the reason (I KNOW you want the balls but you can’t have them right now as the adults are using them) has not got us anywhere. This piece one of you sent me on letting the tantrum play out just feels too difficult in such a public space. Any other recommendations or techniques or tips? I really could do with some help.

love from the most incompetent parent ever (sob!)

xxx

Belinda

P.S. I forgot to mention that he also head butted me in the windpipe.

Belinda Mountain writes a (sort of) mommy blog (as she calls it) called Making Mountains which you can go and take a look at over here. If you benefitted from reading her story here at all, or just want to offer her an encouraging word, then please head on over there and leave a comment.

[For more stories of Parents dealing with Tantrums, click over here]

Benedict Nicholson is on to a good thing. A while back he ran a six word story challenge with the theme of LOSS and you can see the results of that on his blog over here.

This week his theme is PASSION and so i thought i would give it a try.

choc

You want to lick the spoon?

[If you feel like you can do better on the theme of Passion in 6 words, click here] 

justice

i really enjoyed reading this book by John Perkins recently. Despite being about his experiences in Americaland i found that so much of it resonated with the present conversations happening in South Africa. The passage i posted on Why Do You Live Where You Live? gave much food for thought and there are some other pieces i would love to share, but as always, you will do much better if you just make some effort and get hold of the book. But in the meantime:

ECONOMIC SYSTEMS

[From chapter 17: Can Free Enterprise Work for us?]

‘What kind of economic system is the most Christian? To many the answer seems self-evident – free enterprise.

I would like to agree. I enjoy the opportunity free enterprise offers me. But I cannot agree fully. Along with its advantages, free enterprise is handicapped by a serious flaw – man’s greed. Both biblical history and American history remind us repeatedly that greedy men will use economic freedom to exploit – to profit at the expense of others. Employers pay employees as little as possible in order to maximise their own profits rather than treating their employee’s economic interests as being as important as their own – or, to be thoroughly Christian – more important than their own.

Advertisers create markets for products which no one needs, not from a motive of servanthood, but out of greed, pure and simple. Businesses measure their success primarily but their financial profits – not by how well they glorify God and serve people. What a far cry we are from a truly Christian economy!

A truly Christian economic system would begin with the fact that the earth is the Lord’s, not ours, and that God and God alone has the authority to determine how His wealth will be used. Our job as stewards is to carry out His will. A Christian economic system would recognise that God provides the earth’s resources for all mankind, not just for some. It would be designed to distribute God’s resources to all humanity in some sort of equitable way.

Free enterprise, as it now exists, falls far short of God’s standard. It has failed to distribute the earth’s resources equitably. And when Christianity should have been calling the American free enterprise system into account for its immoral stewardship, it was instead “baptising” the system, adopting free enterprise as an implicit “article of faith.” Free enterprise has become almost a religious doctrine that justifies our greed and substitutes token charity for real economic justice. It enables us to blame the victims of oppression for their own poverty and lets us feel little responsibility to redistribute our wealth to the needy. The result of such a system is predictable – increasing production by the rich, but continuing poverty for the oppressed.

Communism, then, came along as an attempt to distribute the earth’s resources more equitably. Communism sprang into being because apostate religion could not challenge man’s greed. But atheistic communism has not brought justice either.

Neither capitalism nor communism can bring justice to the poor. Once we have seen what God’s Word means by economic justice, that is self-evident. While some economic systems are better than others, no system will serve the people well as long as those who control it are motivated by greed. We as Christians must champion an alternative. We must create a system that is based not on greed, not even on greed tempered by honesty (the ideal of free enterprise), but on justice and love. We must create a system that distributes wealth more equitably in response to human needs. This Christian economic system will by its very existence be a prophetic voice to the world system.

Selfish, unregenerated man will never develop this type of system. We, the people of god, must do it or it will never be done at all.

How do we begin to shape a just economy?

First, we must understand where our economy stands now. When man has abused his economic freedom, using it to produce an unjust distribution of resources, corrective action is called for. The economic plight of American blacks today has its roots in slavery and is the very center of oppression which followed emancipation. It is like a baseball game. In the ninth inning the team which is trailing 20 to 2 discovers that the winning team has been cheating all along. The leading team admits, “Yes, we were cheating, but we’ll play fair now. Let’s go out and finish the game.”

Now it’s good that the team is going to quit cheating, but with the score 20 to 2 the trailing team still has the feeling they’re going to lose. When injustice has been done, establishing justice means something more than “playing fair from now on.” 

In America [read ‘South Africa’ – brett] today, one group has the capital, the other has the labour and the broken spirit. We say to the trailing team, “Get onto the field and play. You are now equal. You don’t need affirmative action. You don’t need special access to job training. You don’t need any kind of special help; that would be reverse discrimination. You are now equal and free.”

Achieving justice in America [read ‘South Africa’ – brett] will require something more than “playing fair from now on.” Economic opportunity in capitalism depends on ownership of capital. The free enterprise system assumes that anyone can have access to capital through his labour and that banks and lending institutions will make investment capital available to anyone who has the will and the know-how to produce goods and services for the marketplace. There is only one problem with that assumption – it’s not true.

The oppressed among us know too well that the oppressive forces which created their poverty in the first place keep them trapped in it. The young black electrician, having never had an opportunity to establish a credit rating, finds it almost impossible to raise the capital to buy the tools and equipment to go into business for himself. The general rule is , “To get capital , you must have capital,” and so the system perpetuates and widens the gap between rich and poor.

Despite its serious failures I don’t want to throw out the free enterprise system. The freedom which many use to satisfy their greed can also be used to develop economic enterprises not based on greed. The free enterprise system gives us the freedom to create businesses designed to serve, rather than to exploit. If we Christians will devote our capital and ourselves to creating such a system, we can make just such a system work. And it can all be done within the context of free enterprise.

[To read the piece John wrote on Relocation, click here] 

This is a piece that was shared with me by Leigh Geary but which originally was published on her blog, The Mom Diaries under the title, ‘The Terrible Twos: Am I being punished for all my sins?’

leigh

Lets talk about the terrible two’s shall we? Holy Moley! I think I’m about to lose my shit in a big way but lets face it that would just be teaching him that tantrums and inappropriate behavior are acceptable.

I forgot what its like to have a two-year old in the house who thinks he’s Lord Muck and that our lives revolve around his every wish and command. I honestly don’t think I’ve ever been ordered around so much in my life. And I REALLY hate being told what to do. This is today’s conversation with my cute as a button two-year-old son as we were getting ready to leave the house:

He enters my bedroom looking very hard done by, because lets face it being two is a rollercoaster ride of eating, sleeping, playing, outings, treats, afternoon naps followed by more playing and eating. It’s tough.

“Mommy hold you” (in a moan that’s so dramatic you think there may be something sinister brewing)

“Mommy is just getting dressed bub then I will hold you, come let’s go to the gym. Go get your shoes and then we can go!”

“No mommy do it”

“Ok I will. Just let me finish putting my shoes on then I will get your shoes ok?”

“MOMMMY DO IT!!!!”

“Yes I will do it now”

“MOMMMMMMMMY DOOOOOOO IT!!!”

In a huff I go and get his shoes and as I reach for them in his cupboard the freak out escalates to disturbing levels:

“NO. NO. NO!!! I DO it!! I DO it!”

“You said three times you wanted me to get it babe” (how’s me trying to reason with a two-year old?)

“No I DO IT!”

“Fine, by all means do it yourself”

I stand back to allow him to do get the gumboots out and he begins the painfully long process of negotiating them onto his feet. Just as he is about to fall from, all the wiggling and winding, I reach out ever so gently just to offer him a hand. (I’ve been burnt in the past and have learnt my lesson)

“No I do it!! Brody do it! I do it by self, NOO HELPING!!!!!!!!!”

I stand back in a panic (a little afraid for my life too) and watch his will power and stubborn nature refusing to give in to the help that is only a hand reach away. I wonder who he got that from?

I try one last time to gently show him we can work together and he throws himself in a lump on the floor.

I have a gym class I would like to make and I will be damned if my two-year-old kid and his boots are the reason I’m late. So I walk back to my room to finish putting on my other shoe.

What followed can only be described as a meltdown of disturbing proportions when he followed me back in to the room, threw the boots at me and said ”MOMMY DO IT MOMMY HELP YOU!!!”

And so there we were back at square one. My worst place to be. Square one represents energy wasted and time you will never get back.

After what feels like the longest exercise of coercing him to work with me, we get the boot on!

And just like that, as thought nothing has happened he screams “I DID IT!”” And with a bounce in his step and enough giddy excitement to bring a circus to back to life, he marches off.

I on the hand, was left in the fetal position on the floor wondering if I even needed to go to the gym after all the effort it took to get through that.

I get that toddlers are in a very intense stage of self-assertion and independence but it can be tough on the rest of the family. It can be tough on the neighbours too.  It’s even harder knowing when you are allowed to be extra firm and tell them how its going be and when you need to encourage their independence and nurture their strong wills by letting them go through the process themselves.

This is what DR Betty Liebovich says about this time in a toddler’s life:

“Your toddler may show developing independence through eating, dressing, playing with toys, and drawing. Sometimes, your toddler will want to do these things without any help; other times, she will need your help with everything. With the uncertainty of whether help is needed or not comes frustration on your part and that of your toddler. This is when your toddler may resist and throw a tantrum”

Or the world may end in my case.

She goes on to say:

“Your toddler may resist any help from you, insisting that she can do a task on her own. However, she may then become frustrated because she is unable to complete the task, as s/he would like. The resistance to accept help is your toddler asserting her independence. In order to assert her own will your toddler may reject your own. Negotiating when to assist, when to hang back and when to anticipate opposition takes time and patience. Having some ideas of what to anticipate and how to negotiate independence may ease resistance and opposition”

I’m hoping to find some ways to diffuse these situations and learn how my little guy thinks, how he is wired. If you have any tips to share with me and other moms please feel free to comment below. Who knows maybe we can brainstorm another post together!

This mom needs all the help she can get!

Love,

Leigh xxx

[To read Belinda’s story of her two year old and a very public meltdown, click here]

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