Top 3 lessons I've learned from my son

by Kristi Van Dyk

There are days I'm sure I can't do this any longer. I had one of them this week. We had setback after setback after setback. I was so discouraged. 

We know (in our heads) that God is faithful but sometimes the head and the heart just don't match. We know it but we don't feel it. 

One of the ways that I cope when these challenges hurl down is to reflect. I curl up with coffee or a Diet Coke and I allow my mind focus on progress, growth or learnings -- seeking something redemptive, however microscopic. Today, as I made the 8th snack (I wish I was kidding) before 10:00, I reflected on some lessons I can learn from my special little man. As I got to thinking, I realized how powerful this could be to write down ...both for him (later on) and maybe for other tired and discouraged Momma's out there ... 

Within our setbacks there are lessons to be learned.

Here are the 3 lessons I am choosing to learn: 

1. He yearns to connect
I always thought our family was pretty good at having meals together. We always sat down for dinner; we sometimes sat down for breakfast. We usually had a couple of us eat at a time for lunch. This seemed okay, given the 5 very active people who lived in our house. For Joshua, however, this is NOT enough. Today, I had the hot griddle going and I was making pancakes for lunch. I served him two to begin (he ended up eating 5 ... even after all of those morning snacks ... where DOES he put it!) and then I went on using up the batter while he ate. 
He beckoned me ... curling his little fingers and rapidly waving his wrist ... He pointed to the chair next to him. 
I pointed to the hot griddle and the batter .. "Just a minute and then I'll join you." 
He put down his fork and beckoned again ... 
This went on and on and on and on until, finally the pancakes were done, a plate full of steaming food in front of him, and I sat down. 
I hadn't planned on eating pancakes. I am on a modified eating plan. 
This was not acceptable. We should eat together. 
On first impulse this is frustrating ... just let me eat how I wish, J. But, really, I think it's very wise. Meal times are for shared fellowship, for communication, for connection. He wanted to connect. He wanted to talk with me ... It might be that he knows more than I do about what connecting really requires. 

2. He celebrates his victories
Joshua likes to do things "the right way." I don't know why this is a part of his being, but it is. He watches, like a hawk, for patterns and processes. He studies the other children and imitates all that they do (talk about upping your role model game!). He examines my facial expressions and if he gets a hint of disapproval, he quickly revises what he is doing.
Today at lunch Joshua shoved his plate away and it crashed into the other items on the table. He read my expression and quickly pulled the plate back. "Gentle ...." he said (in English) "Gentle Joshua ..." and he pushed the plate away again (we've worked hard on repeating our activities correctly!!!). The second time he was careful and quiet; he demonstrated that he knew what to do. As I smiled, he sat a little straighter. He beamed. He held out his hand for a high five. He took pride in doing things well and in doing things "the right way." And he allowed himself to celebrate this. 
What would my life look like if I said this at the end of a day: "Wow! No one went to the ER. No one was late. We didn't forget any lunches, snacks, or essential clothing items. I spent at least one moment with each child using their love language intentionally today. All appointments were made."
Instead of how I usually sum it up: "Ugh, I shattered my iPhone, I yelled at Maddie. I didn't mop the floor, again, and I messed up that calendar reservation at work. When will I ever get through a good day."
Perhaps I'd have a little more joy about me if I stopped analyzing all of the areas in which I fell short and instead took a moment to focus on the few things I did really well. 

3. Be unquenchable
The fact that this comes to my son, despite a hard beginning, is amazing to me. My son knows how to have fun. I constantly marvel at all of the ways he manages to pick himself up and go at it again. There are days when the kid can't catch a break. He trips and falls, he has trouble with bathroom control, he can't figure out the door knob, or he bangs his head (again) and then he breaks a favorite toy ... sometimes all of those things occur in a one hour period! There are so many new things to learn. I keep waiting for this little guy to get overwhelmed and give up. But he doesn't. Even on his toughest days he keeps on keeping on. 

The most amazing thing though is that, unlike his Momma, who keeps trudging through (sometimes with a sour attitude), Joshua keeps on with a song in his heart. He sings and sings nonsense and sings more nonsense When we listen to worship music in the car he hollers, he belts, he sings Christ Redeemer in gibberish, he waves his hands to the tune of God of Angel Armies, despite the fact that he is absolutely clueless about the words. His spirit (right now) is unquenchable. 

Oh that I'd approach each hard day with the ability to continue singing, and not singing grudgingly, singing with everything in my being ... in a foreign language ... in a foreign country ... with a smile Maybe a few more days with this little nugget by my side and I might be able to attempt it. 

Momma readers, I challenge you ... What can you learn from the seemingly mundane? What can you see in your reflections that your little ones can teach you? I'd love to hear more ...