Wednesday, January 5, 2011

"I Don't Waaaaaaaaaannnt To!"





My grandson James is not #1 on my list right now.

Well, actually, he is #1 on a list, but it’s not a nice list.

He wasn’t in the running for any Mr. Congeniality Awards today.

It started in the morning, when he came over for breakfast. I politely asked him to go potty before sitting down at the table. He not-so-politely declined.

We had a few words about it.

I said, “Okay, then, but please don’t have any accidents.”

Five minutes later, he requested more milk.

As I handed him his cup, I slipped in something.

A puddle was leaking out from underneath his chair.

(loud sigh.)

Following breakfast, I fixed him a bath and politely asked him to get in.

He not-so-politely rejected that idea.

You’d have thought I requested that he submit to a voluntary amputation.

Blood-curdling screams. Sobbing.

“I don’t waaaaaaaaaaant to take a bath!”  The long vowel sound is high and nasal at the same time, like someone from New Jersey doing the purple grape girl from Willy Wonka.

Many lures, threats, and bribes later, he finally submits.

I sneak some shampoo and water into my hand while he’s looking down at the bath toys. I attack and furiously work up a lather.

“I don’t waaaaaaaaaaaant to wash my hair!”

(Mwwwaaahahaha, I think. Too late, buddy.)

The rinsing out part takes 5 minutes of persuasion and 3 seconds of forced dunking.

He runs away before I finish drying him off, and empties the entire toy box onto the floor. Its contents spill into the doorway, tripping me up as I chase after him.

“Let’s clean up the toys, James.”

“I don’t waaaaaaaaaaaant to clean up the toys!”

Five more minutes of lawyerly persuasion on my part.

It’s finally agreed that I will help him clean them up. I will help him because I love him, and people who love each other help each other.

Picking up a special toy, I am assaulted. He grabs it from me and yells, “That’s mines!” in the voice of the little Grinch guy from Lord of the Rings.

Yikes.

Naptime couldn’t come soon enough.

Katherine called me to come help her when he woke up. Jay was out running errands.

James’ room looked like a bomb had gone off.

Katherine sat in the middle of the floor trying to sort out the thousands of little pieces that each boy toy comes equipped with. Train tracks, here. Small cars, there. Puzzle pieces, here. Uncategorizable objects, there.

I asked if James had gone potty since awakening.

Evidently, he had gone, just not in the correct receptacle.

Numero Dos.

Katherine wanted to deal with it herself, in spite of the challenges of doing so with one working arm. A struggle ensued. Katherine ended up getting hit in the face.

Time Out.

“I don’t waaaaaaaaaaaant to go to time out!”

Too bad, buster.

Wild crying.

Escape from Time Out before time’s out.

Returned to captivity.

More wild crying.

Second escape attempt.

There’s a maternal consensus: Corporal Punishment.  (Call the cops if you have to. We adhere to the old Proverbs 13: 24 advice.)

Mimi has to administer it, as it requires two working arms.

Everyone is sad about it.

Then we all kiss and make up and say we’re sorry. Hugs and more hugs.

James and I go back to my house so Mom and Dad can get ready for their Small Group.

We repeat the same scenario from the morning, minus the bath. Plus several new messes. (i.e. throws all pillows and blankets off the sofa and chairs, jumps on bed, climbs on coffee table.)

We fight several more potty battles and argue about clean-up time.

One final wail: “I don’t waaaaaaaaaaannnnnnt to!”

I sit on the floor, looking sad and tired.

James gives me an adorable Eddie Haskell smile.

“Be happier, Mimi,” he grins at me.

I can’t resist. I scoop him up and smother the little devil with kisses.


We clean up together, because people who love each other help each other.




***************

“Watch the kind of people God brings around you, and you will be humiliated to find that this is His way of revealing to you the kind of person you have been to Him. Now, He says, exhibit to that one exactly what I have shown to you.” (Oswald Chambers, Utmost, September 11)

***************

Dear Lord,
Please forgive me for always wanting what I want instead of what you want. Thank you for sending me a little messenger to remind me of my New Year’s prayer. Thank you for loving me unconditionally, and for helping me clean up all my messes. Give me grace to desire what you desire for me. Have your own way, Lord. I am the clay.
Amen

***************

p.s. This was written last night. He was so darn precious and sweet this morning, I feel bad publishing it. Guess we all deserve a bad day every now and then.


12 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hi Kim,

Great post as usual!

I can totally relate and hey - consider throwing out all those toys with tons of small parts. I don't care if someone has 4 working arms. They end up being more trouble than they are worth.

I'm the mom who was helping you and Brooks get all the kids in one room for Growing Kids last Sunday. I STILL can't get over that you guys did that (thank you thank you!!) but that is another story....

My son Mark, the tall blond kid I said would be responsible and come get another adult for you if you needed one was EXACTLY like James. And they even have the same birthday, Oct. 16. (and had we had another boy and not 3 more girls we for sure would have had a James too, I love that name and it's also a family name)

As a toddler and preschooler, Mark was on alternate days wonderful and horrible (mostly horrible). He wanted to test us all the time. It was shocking how hard some days were.

Don't ever be discouraged about raising and strong willed young man, you have no idea what an amazing person James is going to grow into. Mark is still strong willed and tests us but his capacity to be wonderful amazes me. I can hear him singing and entertaining our twin baby girls right now. No one asked him too. He's just in their room being sweet and doesn't know I can hear him.

These October 16 boys are going far with the LORD!!

And it does get better. In my experience, it is true that preschool boys are much more challenging than little girls. They do teach us a lot about rebellion, sin and grace. :) ha ha

Hang in there. You are such a powerful blessing in his life. I hope his happy days continue for the rest of your visit.

much much Love, Michelle

Laurel said...

We're going through the same thing with our little princess- 3.5 years old. IF you can bring yourself to do it, IF- I have found a method that works pretty well. My 6 yo Pirate cheerfully cleans up after himself when I ask and that was no small feat. It worked on him and it's working on her.

I have a big cardboard box. It starts out empty. I tell her she can play with whatever she gets out but that she MUST put it up when she is done. If she does not put it away, it goes in the box. Which goes to Goodwill. If she has so many toys that she doesn't think she needs to take care of them then we should let someone who isn't so lucky have a shot at them.

Once it is in the box, it does not come out. It doesn't get rescued or paroled. I've only had to put things in the box twice over the span of several weeks, including Christmas, and clean up efforts get the ticker tape parade treatment.

I just don't have the energy or patience to battle with them about things and the major upside to that is that we don't have battles. Temper tantrums happen, but not in the living room. I have two freakishly strong-willed kids and both of them do a better job picking up after themselves (relative to age) than nearly any other child I know, which makes me proud, which in turn makes them feel good.

The B's said...

I was at Samford with Katherine at Samford. We were on the same hall freshman year so I have been keeping up for quite a while. Anyways, my Emma (4) is MUCH like James. Especially at 3 we had all out wars. It was just horrible! We still have them on occassion but overall (knock on wood) things are getting much better. I enjoyed reading the other two comments too...they encourage me.

Christine said...

wow, this really spoke to me. as a reader of your blog (love it, but never commented before). I have 2 boys, 5 1/2 and 2 1/2 (walker, my youngest was born 2 days before katherine's brain bleed) so I always remember how long it has been.
when my mom called to check on me last night, I choked back the tears, tried my hardest to hold them in and just thought, I don't know if I can make it through this day. It is just so hard being a mom. My walker has rocked my world and the day you just described is many days out of the week for me. If it isn't dumping a whole carton of eggs on the ground, its jumping on the counter and drinking syrup. my husband is getting a new degree so on the nights he has school it makes for a LONG day and some days it. is. SO. hard. as I sat him on the counter last night after his bath (mind you I had been crying since I got of the phone with my mom 10 min. ago) to floss his teeth, he decided he needed to floss mine as well. as he did, he said, ewww yuck, wook mommy and just looking at that beautiful face and the funny thing he said, the Lord just gave me the strength to laugh through tears, just enough strength to wrestle the pj's on and get him to bed. thanks for your beautiful writing. I LOVE IT!!!
lenchristineandwill.blogspot.com

Laurel said...

@ Christine: I am laughing reading your post. I have so been there.

It must have been in the air yesterday. I sent both of mine to their rooms for a while. When the oldest asked if he could come out, I said no. But I told him he wasn't only in his room because he was being too rambunctious but also because Mama needed a time out. When I settled down enough to deal with them without screaming, they got sprung.

Gina said...

Hi Kim!

My name is Gina and I have been following you for a little over a year now. I was first lead to Katherine's site because I had a dear friend suffer from a traumatic brain injury from a car accident (www.caringbridge.org/visit/alexandraaadelmann). I know Katherine's story has been endless inspiration to Ali's family.

I have recently started my own blog (although I'm not sure where it will lead - or what it will even be about... but I am excited to find out) and wanted to let you know that your's has been an inspiration! Thank you for writing and sharing!

Happy 2011!

Mary Walsh said...

The look on his face says it all!

Kim said...

Hi,
Wow, the message that struck me the most in this blog was how similar my attitude has been with God as James (as described here) has been with you. It hit me in the face.

I have been moaning, whining, complaining, and refusing to comply with some areas that God is presenting in my life.

Thank you for sharing this and reminding me that the experiences God puts in our lives is always for my best - even though I don't see it at the time. I see it more clearly when I see your patience with your grandson. Thank you so much for sharing this story.
Gratefully,
Kim

Kim Arnold said...

As always, I am so blessed by your comments. Thank you all for the great advice! The threat of giving the left-out toys away proved to be a powerful incentive!

I admire you young mothers so much. There is no job more difficult or more rewarding. You are planting seeds that will bear eternal fruit. Hang in there on the impossible days! They will pass more quickly than you realize.

Thank you all for your encouragement to me. Gina, may God bless your new blog.

Kim, I'm glad you picked up on that point. God uses the circumstances of our daily lives to teach us so much. I've always loved (and been convicted by) that quote from Oswald. He nails it on the head!

(Oh Lord, forgive me for behaving like a 3-year-old so often!)

Love to you all,
Kim

lisa said...

Hi Kim,
I been meaning to write for a while, I been following you writing since you started and am in awe of your candor and love to read your posts. I met Katherine when she was on "5th Grader"; my husband was a contestant that day, and we taped the shows on the same day. We have been following along on her journey.
A few weeks ago while at the Malibu Courthouse, while waiting on a long line, I overheard a young girl speaking to someone and mentioning Pepperdine and that she was from Athens. Since she looked so much like Katherine I asked if she was Grace, and indeed she was! I was telling her how I knew Katherine and where I lived...yada yada..we got to talking and she told me that Aimee works for Dr. J; so funny since all 4 of my kids are patients of his (and basically how we spent our winnings from 5th grader.) I had no idea that Aimee, was Katherine sister, as I know her a few years; how funny and really what a small world it is! Your 3 daughters are all wonderful people as I have now had the pleasure of meeting all of them.
Wishing you and your family a wonderful New Year!
Lisa Loptman

Kim Arnold said...

Lisa

wow. what a small world! Our lives must be meant to intersect. Thanks so much for writing. I'll tell Amie to be watching out for your kids.

Anonymous said...

Oh I just love your posts! You guys are doing a wonderful job with James. I am so awed and inspired by Katherine and Jay. James is one lucky little man to have so many amazing "teachers" loving on him. I am about to have my 3rd little boy next Thursday and I have 2 other boys that are 5 and 3.5. I have many a days that look so much like you described and then just like you said they wake up the next morning and you can't help but melt. Please give Katherine a hello for me.... I;m still praying for all of you.
Brittany Wood Bolemon