So many of you know that Grumpy did not just get the dwarf name assigned to him because it was the only name left over. To say that he spends a significant part of his day being grumpy is not an understatement. Based on several issues that seem at this age and space in time, to be beyond his abilities to over come, he struggles with low self esteem, the inability to make good choices, a fear of others and what they think of him, as well as a huge pile of pride that prohibits him from ever, ever, ever being humble and in a position to accept or desire correction or instruction.
Most of you with teenage boys can relate to this. Add a little bit of body odor, a flair up of acne and I have just described half to three fourths of the males in the 14 - 17 year (and beyond) age group.
To say the story of this blog post was a challenge with Grumpy would be accurate, and while I can hold it together for most of the day, as with most of us parents, you get to a place where we are mentally and physically exhausted and to coin a phrase my mother used to use, "fed up to here". So the day of the blow up described below, was the climax of three consecutive days of rolling, boiling, stewing issues, where this momma finally blew.
From his direct disobedience, refusing to work on a task we were all participating in, to his silly antics, that to an outsider would make him seem more like an 8 year old than a 15 year old, to his mouthy disrespect, to his skewed and inaccurate remembrances of conversations, after a 58 minute shower I was starting to loose my cool.
The week played out like a bad sitcom, or at least scene after scene of me thinking, " there has to be a camera here somewhere and he is a paid actor, because no one in their right mind, could continue this way for any length of time behaving so poorly unless it was a choice."
The highlight reel.... telling me, insisting really, that I told him humidity would cause a sunburn. Spraying tanning oil on himself, in the house, with not one, but three fans blowing the oil on to the leather couch, arguing that no one told him we were leaving, as all his other siblings are sitting in the van for 15 minutes waiting for him, his recounting numerous times throughout the week that he does NOT need to be reminded to finish a task before starting a new one; when there are piles of yard debris left in the grass that he did not clean up, his papers from writing letters blowing around on the patio, cereal containers and milk still on the kitchen table at 11 am, his bike left out in the rain, his clothing and socks leaving a trail to show a where he has been in a 24 hour period throughout my 2600 sq ft home and my outdoor living spaces, and my personal favorite that leads me to blow, that according to him, he was only in the shower/bathroom for 9 minutes "Grumpy time", but 58 minutes real time.
Rewinding to the fact it is Wednesday, and a church night... By three that afternoon all 3 boys had their hair cut, so upon arriving home at 4:03, Grumpy heads up the stairs to shower so he is not hairy for church. In that time, I send some emails, switch over the laundry, make dinner, call him twice for dinner, serve dinner, sit with the other dwarfs, share conversation around the dinner table with the four other dwarfs, put away dinner and am cleaning up dishes from dinner, when alas he finally wanders down the stairs. Still holding my cool, as I say to Grumpy, " Here is your dinner, I fixed you a plate because you did not come when called for dinner." His response, "I did not hear you". Fine, I said," I can see how that can happen when the shower is on, the door is locked, and the radio is blaring. " You need to eat your dinner so we can leave for church." Still in my opinion, holding it together, refusing to get into a battle of the wits with someone that suffers from a processing disorder. Until that is, he starts to complain because his taco is too full and he can't wrap the ingredients in the "baby sized taco shell".
To say that my next words were edifying would be a lie. To say that my tone was more kind than sarcastic, would also be a lie. To say my blood was boiling over the fact that no amount of reasoning or discussion could make him see his part in why he was eating pr-emade taco's, would be accurate. My greatest source of frustration with this dwarf (and he is not alone, there are others that vex me so), is that they never, ever stop, when faced with a correction or instruction and they are clearly at fault, to just say, "oh, darn mom, I lost track of time, or gee mom, I'm sorry." Or in this particular instance, "thanks mom for saving me dinner." (I know that is similar is seeking a miracle, but a mom can dream right?) In this particular instance 20 minutes of loudly discussing brought no resolution. I thought that my rational and calm (not) pointing out of the facts would assist him in seeing his fault in this. My points, as they were made, had no seemingly immediate impact like I had hoped, and in the end we both walked away frustrated, exhausted and irritated. In times like these, I always tend to walk away feeling like Charlie Brown's teacher .... my voice and all conversations with said dwarf, are just non intelligible words being heard, making no impact.
To church we go. Two hours later, we are on the home journey (which really takes all of three minutes now if you don't get stuck at the red light) and Grumpy announces he wants to talk to me. I wish that I could say to you that I graciously agreed to talk with him. That my initial reaction was to want to sit with him one on one. It was not. However, what happens next, is why as parents we keep on repeating ourselves, why we keep on reinforcing the messages of social skills, work ethic, curbing attitudes, heeding instructions, playing nicely with others etc, etc, etc.
Grumpy, went soft on me. He started to tear up. He shared from his heart. He desires to change. He wants to comply, he is starting to understand that he alone can not make the changes. He is able to articulate that he is taking his past out on me. I am hopeful again. Will this be the last of these types of days, with certainty I can say no. It has been almost a month since these incidents occurred that I am writing about, and just yesterday alone I can recount 4 issues that Grumpy and I had to work through painfully. I can say that the path ahead is long and the journey will be difficult, but the moments of growth and tenderness in Grumpy are what I need to hold on to, in an effort to continue on in this sometimes monumental and exhausting path of raising special needs kids. God knows when we need the encouragement as the parents, just as he knows when these broken cracked kids need encouragement.
When I think about my life and my decisions, my arrogance and pride, while on the outside may look better when I am melting down, what is on the inside is really what counts. It is what is in our hearts that is what displeases God. My special needs kids, do not have the ability to harbor things, or to hold it together like others can. The training process for these kids is rigorous. The fruits of our labors are often times so small that if we blink, we will miss them. However knowing the unconditional way that God loves me, should give me the strength and the power, in His name, to keep ministering to my kids. To keep instructing, to keep on being faithful in the small stuff, because my God has not walked away from me in my moments of stupidity, confusion or defiance.
One of my life verses reads like this, and I keep it on my desk at all times:
"Consider it pure joy my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish it's prefect work so that you may be mature and complete not lacking anything." James 1: 2-4
You really Can't Make this stuff up!