nonsensical text

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

teething biscuits


sleeping with bread

Many moons ago, I became a parent for the first time. I was graced with the chance of staying home to parent. This almost didn’t come to pass, and it didn’t promote financial abundance, but it did happen. After a few short months, the N boy developed wanderlust. Considering the fact that his world was the size of the blanket I placed him upon before this transition, his initial explorations were not of great distance. He swam across the parquet flooring with fervent determination and almost equally intense effort.

In those years, I was known to peruse the occasional parenting tome, so I adhered to the philosophy that it was simple to reform a mischief-seeking child. The books all agreed: If a child is getting into things they should not be touching, merely distract them with something they are permitted to explore. Nothing to it! This advice worked well until the boy discovered the bottom shelf of the wall unit. On the left, the shelf held various books. To the right, the album collection could be found (for you youngsters, think great big CD’s that had to be played upon an enormous contraption called a turntable). At first, this bounty was relatively safe. The boy merely ran his fingers across the spines of the books. Before long, however, he could often be found sitting on the floor with rifled books and de-jacketed records strewn about him. My entire library soon bore bite marks.

No distraction ever seemed powerful enough to sway his purpose once he set out for the shelf. When he began to rejoice in the sound of ripping paper, I realized my tactics had to change. The parenting experts were ready for just such a happening. Saying, “No,” repeatedly was, according to the pundits, the surest way to break the fragile spirit of my child. As a result, I embarked upon the grievous task of reorganizing my storage system – placing only child friendly items on the bottom shelf. As he grew, so did his determination. No shelf was too high. “No!” served only to make him look guilty if he was caught in the act. It was never sufficient to keep him out of trouble in the first place. My books were exiled. His toys took over every accessible surface. I had to wonder if it wouldn’t have been easier and more effective to introduce him sooner to the concept of the definite NO.

In the Garden of Eden, God set up a play place for Adam and Eve. Everything was an acceptable toy – except for one tree. I notice from the scriptures that He placed that tree in the center of the garden. There were many distractions for his children around the periphery. Years of productive play could be possible without thought of that tree even intruding upon their merry-making. I also notice that He told them, “No,” right off the bat. They seemed content.

One day, that crafty serpent brought Eve’s attention to the tree. Like the N boy running his fingers over the pages of the book, gradually growing his anticipation by the sound of rustling paper, the serpent’s words awoke Eve’s curiosity. I can imagine if I were in her place - the subtle hiss of the serpent’s voice provoking such insatiable curiosity, the curiosity gnawing at my thoughts until I could no longer think of anything else - the first tentative steps to briefly touch the fruit, then smell it, then caress it. With each successive investigation, the temptation to experience the forbidden treat would mount until becoming irresistible.

Temptation comes in many forms. Often, I am tempted to dwell upon the familiar. God made the world so vast and so full of variety. There is always some new direction to grow, some new blessing to see, but somehow, I keep reaching for the old standard. Refusing to stretch into the next stage of what God has in store for me, I rest comfortably in the mundane.

Eventually, the N boy grew even more. He stopped chewing on my books and started reading them. Adam and Eve, while expelled from the garden, attempted to raise their children with knowledge of the awesomeness of God.

As a child of God, I too must grow. My growth cannot be purely internal. I need to open up my spirit to a willingness to be taken out of my comfort zone. Am I up for the challenge? I’m not so sure, but He is strong enough to lift me should I stumble. He is patient enough to remain by my side no matter how small my steps.

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4 Comments:

  • Very good read.

    Sometimes, for me, it's about being willing to be willing.

    That "I WON'T" bites me every time.

    By Blogger Mel, at 8:49 AM  

  • I agree with Mel, this is good stuff, T. I never was particularly good at distracting my children; however, I am very good at being distracted!

    I felt a little discouraged when I read the end of this. I think I feel a little too much like I'm developmentally delayed due to willfulness. I know God is patient with me but I think I'm a little tired of having to take advantage of that patience.

    (Oh, the explanation of an album cracked me up!)

    By Blogger Mary-LUE, at 12:35 AM  

  • P.S. I hope you won't feel bad that I felt a little discouraged by a little part of this. It is my own practice of not practicing the presence of God that is leaving me a little under the spiritual weather these days.

    By Blogger Mary-LUE, at 12:36 AM  

  • Mel - Ah, willing to be willing...gulp...I um, think I might know something about that.

    Mary - I actually think, when I started the post, that wasn't where I intended to go with it at all. I have to say, though, that you put your finger so precisely on the sore spot. I get so dragged down by the cycles of discovering that I still need that patience oh so often (and perhaps rely too heavily upon the fact that it is always there).

    -me

    By Blogger atypical, at 1:17 AM  

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