Thanks for all of the prayers, girls, because they have been answered! Nathan has done a complete about face with regard to his behavior and attitude at school and at home. He has received excellent daily conduct reports, and the few marks he has received are for things that he does because he is six.
Our evenings are (mostly) no longer spent in front of the television or computer screen, and are instead spent playing games or reading books. Please don't think our home has become a Norman Rockwell painting, because we still have our share of tantrums, hurt feelings, TV watching and stress. But I think that the extra effort on our part to be more attentive to the kids has paid off tremendously.
Not only that, but the kids and I have started a routine of praying on the way to the sitters every morning. I can't tell you how sweet it is to my ears when I hear Nathan praying that he will make good choices that day, and that I will have a good day as well. Or when the three year old prays that she will not bite today and that she wants to be sweet. After the prayers, we recite the catechism that we are learning together.
Who made you? God did.
What else did God make? All things.
Why did God make you and all things? For His glory.
How can you glorify God? By loving Him and doing what He commands.
This is as far as we've gotten, but they love shouting out the answers correctly and Nathan keeps asking me what the next question will be. It's gratifying to see my children wanting to learn biblical truths and about the character of God. Let me be clear that I believe it takes more than a rote catechism to fully understand scripture, but I think that it is a really good start for our children. The questions and answers will lead to more in depth discussion, and that is a good thing.
There are so many out there, and we chose one that was simple enough to be understood by young children, and then we will gradually build and change it to match their growth. It's also a good tool for everyday teaching. Grace loves to point out the moon to me in the morning when we are getting in the car to leave. She squeals, "Look mommy! It's Luna! It's Luna!" I can then respond, "Yes, that's Luna. Who made Luna? When she responds with "God", then I can reinforce the fact that God did indeed make all things. Sometimes this results in a fifteen minute long recitation of all the things she can think of that God made, from the trees to the Tahoe, but that's okay.
One thing that has really hit home with me throughout this time of change with Nathan is the scripture in Ephesians 6. Nathan can recite verse 1 without blinking an eye. "Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right" but I often forget that the second part of that commandment is given to the parents. "And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord."
Oh, how I provoke my children to wrath sometimes! My impatience with their little hands moving too slowly, or their brains not thinking as quickly as I think they should. My tendency to judge a situation before I have all of the facts. My insistence that things be done my way because I say so, and for no other reason. We have some serious wrath, or as the NIV translates, exasperation in our home!
Some days, the only way to maintain my sanity is to repeat over and over, "They are just kids, they are just kids!" Too often I think of them as adults in little bodies, forgetting that they do not have all of the social and emotional restraints that we do, and that it's my job to teach those things. If I would just slow down for 30 seconds and instruct instead of reacting, I would do away with a good deal of my children's exasperation.
So, I am thankful that Nathan is entering a season of (relative) obedience and that God used a situation that seemed so difficult and hard to teach me to be a better parent. As Heather put it, "There are times in this Christian life that we experience the Refiner’s fire. It is necessary for us to feel the heat so that we may be made pure and holy. John Piper says that “…God will have no alloys in heaven.”
How I love that quote! So I will glory in the good times and in the bad, because God intends all of it. Every single event of my life is intentional and for my good, even when I can't see past the end of my own nose.