He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. ~ Psalm 147:3

Posts tagged ‘Strong-Willed Child’

I’m Not Stubborn!

I’d rather have eaten a can of worms than have my hair washed. And my parents would have gladly fed them to me rather than wrestled with me to wash it.

We didn’t have modern conveniences like indoor plumbing, walk-in showers, and bathtubs. We had electricity, though, thanks to one of my dad’s many skills.

And speaking of daddy, he rarely ever raised his voice, never lost his cool and never liked whipping us kids. Mom did, though. She liked law and order and didn’t hesitate to exercise her militant authority when needed. You’d have thought she was the one that served in the army instead of my dad.

But to keep peace with mom, during Saturday’s hair-washing night, daddy reluctantly sat beside the galvanized tub with a long, skinny switch; the kind that wrapped around your legs several times like a leather strap. Mom picked it out.

Like a stern-faced Sargeant, mom sat me down on the stool and leaned my head back, allowing my long red hair to cascade into the metal tub. Then the waterboarding began.

As if being electrocuted, I kicked and screamed and wriggled my slippery, half-naked body free from daddy’s firm grip and flew out the door, across the porch, down the steps, and down the dirt lane. If we had had any neighbors, they would have been standing on their porches with shotguns thinking a mass murderer was on the loose.

We lived in the heart of the woods where the only light we had was the moon and the stars. For a little six-year-old with a big imagination and afraid of the dark, that was just a tiny spark in a cave. Every tree was a leaping bear; every sound a prowling monster looking for children to eat.

Suddenly, I came to my senses and decided I’d rather be drowned than eaten alive and shot like a bullet back into the house.

And there they were, mom standing triumphantly with the pitcher of water in her hand and daddy sitting, seemingly amused, still holding the switch.

There were other Saturday night hair washings. But, remembering the monsters lurking outside in the pitch dark, I stayed glued to the stool. That doesn’t mean I didn’t cry and kick and scream and make it easy for my mother to torture me. Oh, no! She always had to pay for her evil crimes!

When Apologizing is like Eating Dirt

I’ll never forget that day. My brother, Kenny and I were left alone while mom and daddy went to the grocery store. Because my youngest brother, Leonard was too young to stay with us, he always got to go and Kenny and I always had to stay home.

Kenny is four-teen months younger than I and a hundred years wiser. Even as a kid he never sassed, never questioned, and never ran out the door kicking and screaming like a lunatic. He was made of moonbeams and stardust and placed delicately in my mother’s arms.

Me? I was made of cowhide and hurled like a football in her lap.

It was back in the day, long before video games and iPhones and five-hundred TV channels, so we actually had to sit and talk to each other or play pick-up-sticks or ball and jacks or tinker toys or build little log cabins out of Lincoln Logs.

Well, that day was one of those days we got bored with all that. We needed some adventure. The kind of adventure we had before moving into that stupid cramped apartment far away from the woods and trickling streams and giant bullfrogs. The bottom line was we didn’t like living there.

While pacing the living room floor, I glanced out the window and saw the landlord working in her flowerbed. For whatever reason, mom and daddy didn’t like the landlords so I didn’t like them either.

Suddenly, as if being poked with the devil’s pitchfork, I talked Kenny into doing something totally out of character for both of us. We raised the window, stuck out our pea-brain heads and yelled, “Hey old lady Brummel! Hey old lady Brummel!”

We lived quite a distance away, so I didn’t think she even heard us until she threw down her garden tools and stormed toward the apartment huffing and puffing and smoke pouring out of her ears.

Oh, no! She’s coming to rip off our arms and legs!

Like a cat with its tail on fire, Kenny ran downstairs and locked the door just in the nick of time before she started pounding on it and screaming like the big bad wolf, “Let me in! I’m telling your parents when they get home!”

True to her word and to my horror, as soon as the car pulled in the driveway, the phone started ringing.

My mother was the warden at our house. A strict, religious warden that didn’t put up with nonsense and expected her brood to follow the rules or else. And that day “or else” meant that we march our little impudent selves over to the landlord and apologize!

I’d rather have shoveled a pile of manure in the freezing cold stark naked.

Yes, she made me go, but I made her pay.

Like a bloody battle between the North and the South, I bawled and kicked and screamed as mom yanked and pulled and dragged me across the field. By the time we got to the landlord’s house, mom needed a long nap and I needed a straight jacket.

I thought that if I rebelled long and hard enough mom would give up and take me home. But, oh no! If it meant waiting for the rapture to take place, I was going to stand there and apologize before I could even think about going home.

Like swallowing a bag of feathers, I finally conjured up the words everyone was waiting to hear and never talked my brother into doing anything that stupid again. But, I just remembered that other time when . . .

I’ll save that story for later.

Voice of a Strong-willed Child

I was born this way. I don’t come with instructions. So, listen very carefully.

I will fight you. I will run from you. I will scream and yell at you. I will make the neighbors think you’re killing me. I will drive you utterly insane.

Love me anyway.

Don’t try to change me, break me, tame me; I will not be ridden. I am wild. I am strong. I am a free spirit. I will do things my way, in my time no matter how hard you push and tug and pull me.

Love me anyway.

I know I’m difficult. I know I don’t fit in. I know I will never be that prized child you hoped for. But don’t compare me. Don’t judge and criticize me. Don’t shut me out. That only enrages the beast within.

I will say and do things; mean things that neither of us understands. I will hate myself, hurt myself, hurt others if you’re not strong enough or love me enough to guide me down this troublesome path. Ignite your fuse of exasperation and I will blow up in your face. I won’t trust you. I won’t talk to you. I will move completely away from you and you may never get me back.

Love me. Respect me. Praise me . . . again and again. Talk to me. Protect me. Make me feel safe. Beneath this rock-hard fortress of stubbornness, I am a shattered mess of fears and emotions I don’t understand.

Value my honesty. Listen to my concerns. Laugh at my silly antics. Don’t get so worked up over everything I do and say that you think is so ghastly wrong. I’m just a kid with a different view of the world; searching for truth, honor, and strength. So, when you feel like knocking my brains out, hug me instead. If I resist, hug me tighter. Make me believe that you mean it. Make me feel your tender strength. Make me feel I’m not alone in this crazy, mixed up place.

If you don’t, my life will be a living hell of guilt and shame, forever feeling I should never have been born. Forever kicking and screaming against the world. Forever ravaged by the roaring beast within.

So, don’t make raising me more difficult than it already is. If I’m too much for you to handle, get help . . . PLEASE! And when you do, I will show you that I was worth it.

 

 

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He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. ~ Psalm 147:3

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