Well, there she is, our little criminal. Doesn't this photo look like a mug shot? It was actually taken when we needed to get some more passport photos made for Clara Anne, and she wouldn't smile. But it illustrates well my story for today.
Clara Anne has been struggling the last several days with two things: first-time obedience and whining. It's frustrating as a parent sometimes because though we haven't changed our standards or how we deal with her (I don't think, anyway), but she seems to not be responding as well lately to our instruction. We have had a few rather challenging circumstances where she decided to push the line and test us. I fear that I am not passing the test! I am thankful that I can appeal to Father for these things because on my own I would certainly be failing.
You may be wondering what kinds of things Clara Anne has been getting into. Well, remember our Mexican dinner night the other night? I was running a little behind schedule in the preparation, and it was as if Clara Anne sensed that I was really busy and didn't have time to deal with her. Our guests had already arrived, and between the time they arrived and the 45 minutes later when we sat down to eat she managed to do about seven naughty things that she had never tried before. At first she was sitting on the counter next to me, which I let her do sometimes to "help" me when I'm preparing food. That went well for awhile, but then she started wanting to grab and explore things that were nearby . . . I was making the salsa and she attempted to eat some pieces of raw onion as well as some cilantro, quickly discovering that she didn't like the taste of either!
Ok, so I put her down off the counter to go play in her room while I kept going in the kitchen. After a few minutes of suspicious silence, I entered her room to find that she had swiped the lotion bottle (off-limits!) and liberally applied it to one of her stuffed animals.
So then she came back to the kitchen with me, ostensibly so I could keep an eye on her, but then in a moment when my back was turned she reached up to the table for a grown-up's glass of water (also off-limits!) and knocked it over, spilling most of it on herself!
After John changed her clothes, we decided that containment was the best policy. So into the high chair she went, where she very unpleasantly whined (exceedingly off-limits) until the food was ready. Finally after eating and getting her tummy full, as well as getting her hands and face sticky with Mexican Rice, she switched into silly mode and began to give me lots of hugs and kisses. (Hugs and kisses are definitely NOT off-limits!)
Then yesterday our house helper decided it was time to wash Clara Anne's blanket. Though Blanket has not gotten as much blog coverage as Doll, it is almost as important to Clara Anne. She calls it "Bo-bo" and always sleeps with it, as well as dragging it around the house when she feels tired. Clara was quite distressed yesterday to have to use a substitute blanket during her nap, so when she woke up and found that Blanket was already hanging out to dry, she was excited. My clothesline hangs in a small porch off Clara's room; it has windows on three sides and a long counter along the outer wall. Since the clothesline is hung fairly high, we have a small stepstool out there to facilitate hanging up clothes. Well, after Clara Anne saw Blanket hanging there yesterday, she apparently decided to go and get it herself. I was in another room and noticed that suspicious silence again . . . by the time I got there Clara Anne had gone into the porch, closed the door behind her, climbed up on the stepstool and somehow climbed up on to the counter, and I caught her in the act of standing on the counter and reaching up for her blanket! YIKES! Needless to say, it is now off-limits for her to go into the porch by herself.
I guess there are lots of conclusions I could draw from these stories . . . parenting is hard work . . . the heart is deceitful and wicked above all things . . . children are sinners like the rest of us and need to be taught the same things over and over . . . with the loss of obedience comes a loss of freedom . . .but overall I think the moral of the story is that we just have to keep being faithful parents to Clara Anne, shepherding her heart as best we can. Thankfully there is a Strength outside ourselves that we can depend on! And we can pray for her. Today when I put her down for her nap, she said to me, "Mama, pray? Pray?" Certainly, Clara Anne. Let's do that . . . together.