6 month birthday and my adorably odd sometimes naughty children

Cupcakes half decorated for my Miss Cece's half year birthday party.  
It was a fun little celebration of our little girl and an excuse to eat cupcakes.  Aili and Roman surprised me by bringing out wrapped gifts for Cece.  They each picked out one of their own toys that they thought she would like and would be appropriate for a baby.  It was cute.  Cece received her first doll.

Cece has grown a head full of adorable curls.   I'm loving that her hair is long enough (in the front anyway) for little pigtails.  It's so sweet done up with bows and ribbons.  I'm having fun.   

Since Aili was old enough  to stand and sway she has been putting on shows for us.   Her life is one big broadway musical. 
On  regular basis she hand delivers tickets with the time of her next show.   We don't dare loose them because they are required for admission at her bedroom door.   We don't dare sigh in relief and walk away when we loose them either....
Attendance is mandatory.
This time it even came with audience rules.
I don't have pictures of her standing on her bed singing Amazing Grace because , as you can see, photography was forbidden.
I did get a picture..(or 50) of her and her birthday party  friends (her slightly coerced friends) putting on a show for us.   
It seems a flair for the dramatic runs a little further down the birth order.
It's hard not to love a face like this one.

I'm  optimistic that we are entering a new chapter in the life and times of Silas.   He is now past
3 1/2 and it finally seems that we are making a small breakthrough in our attempt to de-barbarianize him.  He was a ridiculously easy baby and angelically compliant toddler ( until 2 1/2.)  However he has been challenging my parenting skills, resources, and experience to the max for the last year.   He is SO different than my other two at this age (who began that "phase" at about one year old).  In some ways easier....in someways strangely more difficult.  I have had to remind myself that he is not going to be as easy and well behaved as the "big kids" are now because he isn't a big kid.   It's easy to forget that both Aili and Roman brought me to the end of my rope and parenting confidence on a regular basis during these high maintenance preschool years...just when I was about to throw in the towel and accept the fact that they were destined for prison they turned a corner.  Aili was ridiculously strong willed and emotionally volatile at Silas' age.   Roman was crazy strong willed , impulsive and mischievous.   Silas has an overdeveloped sense of sneak and sly.  Children are all so different!  They take every bit of wisdom we can muster to learn what makes them tick and how to best guide and teach them.

A few weeks ago I  bought Vanilla Oreos (weak moment, sale, shopping with 4 kids).   Silas became  so obessed with this unusual heavenly treat in the cupboard that he climbed up on the stove , grabbed  them and consumed most of the bag while hiding in his room.  I had no idea what he was up to until he heard me coming.  He ran out of his room, slammed his door shut , spread his arms and legs out wide in front of the door and exclaimed "Don't go in my room...you don't need to go in there!!".   I had to  suppress laughter while doling out consequences moment..
  Silas has been a child who seems to seek out bad attention.  I don't know if it is partly because he has lived a rather unstable and strange three years and he is  unsettled about his role in the family but he seems to embrace the role of "bad boy".  He wants to be the "bad guy" when they play.  He wants to be a "bad buy" when he grows up (that is a little disturbing as a parent).   A common  experience would be after I give a consequence for deliberate naughty behavior ( something like coloring on the table..not an accident, not a misguided attempt at creativity but doing it just to see what will happen), and implore him to give up his evil ways lest he desire more unpleasant consequences he smugly states "I like to be naughty!".  How does a parent deal with that?  I just keep being consistent and hope that my slow learner catches on eventually.   In some ways I think he has had a bit of the " baby of the family" syndrome.  For too long he was the one we gave into when he whined.  The one the older kids had to sacrifice for his preferences.  Too often we appeased his behavior rather than dealt with his behavior.    Even our subtle and occasional giving into his brattiness has created problems.  Last winter while we were in Mexico, living and homeschooling in a trailer and always in a public place there were so many times when I couldn't or just chose not to fight the whining toddler battle head on.  Not consistently anyway.   I realized at the time that once we got home we'd have a baby that needed to be brought into boyhood. That process has been more difficult than I anticipated.

Despite consistentcy, follow through, and regular reminders of expected behavior he has been choosing to do exactly what he knows he's not supposed to do....regardless of what he knows will be coming at the end of it.  That's the frustrating part.   Testing, testing, testing...constantly.  It's exhausting!  It's not the fun part of parenting.  I know it's a process that must be gone through but I am ready for this phase to end.  I'm ready for some fruit of my parenting labors with him.  I'm ready for some smooth sailing for a while.    If I don't get through to him now  as a preschooler it will only get worse.  I do realize that a 3 year old does not have the capacity to act like a 12 year old but contrary to popular belief kids don't naturally outgrow disrespectful , rude. whiny, or sneaky behavior...the stakes just get much higher.   If a child doesn't learn respect for others, honesty , and manners early on he will give his parents (and society) grief for years to come.  Pay now or pay a much higher price later.
  I've tried to balance the "boot camp" mommy with  some extra attention and positive encouragement when he is being good...but I think overall he has kind of gotten lost in the mix. He's not one of the "big kids"...he's not the baby (even though he expresses his desire to be "a baby like Cece" again very frequently).    He has lost his baby status...he has lost it on and off 4 times in the last 3 years.  In a way I think he is trying to figure out where he stands, where the boundaries are, and how secure he is in our family.   Will he still be loved when he chooses to be naughty?    Will we love him enough to protect him from himself and deal with the behavior (as well as the heart issues behind it)?  Do we love him enough to enforce secure boundaries.  I frequently tell them:  "I love you too much to allow you to be ______(selfish...rude... dishonest..)".  Although following through with consequences is always inconvenient, uncomfortable and unpleasant for both of us...it is essential.  Yelling, nagging and warnings are easy but they will never produce a desired result.  Ignoring undesirable behavior is easier but will never build character.   I am constantly assessing and checking to make sure that my parenting is not leaning toward the easy way out...it's so easy to go there.  I have my moments.     Training , teaching and guiding a child's character is a marathon process not a quick fix and unfortunately there are no mile markers along the way until one day you discover that the things you have painstakingly and intentionally been sowing into their hearts are reaping a sweet reward.

Anyway...I think we are now seeing a change....finally bringing  out the boy who wants to please, who wants to be helpful and who desires to be good.   In the last couple weeks he has suddenly become genuinely remorseful when he does something wrong ( I was secretly fearing that this boy was lacking a conscience completely).  He is becoming a much more obedient boy and I'm hearing words like "yes, mommy" "ok, mommy" much more frequently.  I'm hearing  more "may I please have a _________" without being reminded or corrected.   He is doing his "chores" and is eager to help like a  big kid.  He is figuring out that life is much easier on everyone when he behaves himself.  He told me last week  "When I'm a naughty boy it does not make mommy happy....when I have a good heart and be a good boy mommy is so happy with me". 
 He still has his moments, especially when naps are missed...but overall they are outweighed by much more sweet moments.     He seems more secure.   I'm hopeful that we are entering a new season...at least for a little while.


Full Quiver said...

Your doing Kingdom work in raising your little ones to understand the importance of sincere obedience, love, kindness etc. All character traits of the King and their Savior. I've been so excited to be at a point were I can begin to see how consistent parenting has an effect on our kids relationship with God as they get older. But your so right in that being a consistent parent is exhausting! Keep on keeping on your doing a great job!

Kylee said...

I'm so glad you stopped by my blog today, because in return I have now found your blog and I am so excited to read more about you and your family.
I never get tired of reading about other foster families as it is always such an encouragement to me.
Thank you for your sweet words today, and for doing the Lord's work in caring for 'the least of these'.