“She’s obviously going through a phase,” I stated emphatically to my husband earlier this week. “Surely this won’t last.” This I speak of is my nearly 3-year-old’s unruly, controlling behavior. Her need to dictate everything we do is beyond ridiculous lately.
“Give me the rectangle graham cracker, not the square one. I SAID NOT THE SQUARE ONE!”
“I want Mommy to put on my shoes. No! I want Mommy to do it. Mommy! Mommy!”
“Let me open the door. Let me get in my seat. Let me buckle up. I want to buckle MYSELF! NOOOOOOOOOO!” (note: she cannot yet buckle herself)
Y’all, my girl’s controlling behavior borders on verbal abuse of her father and me. If this were a romantic relationship, I would be seeking all the help. Alas, it is my child and she is a preschool tyrant.
But I think I know what’s going on with her, and what’s more, I can actually relate.
My child finds much of the world beyond her control. Nap time. Meal time. Errand running. Clothing choices. Evening routine. She is desperately trying to assert her power in the universe in whatever way she can. Who can blame her, really?
I am doing that too, y’all. We all are. Managing what we can because so much of life is out of our ability to govern. You have a list of things to do today, but the school calls and a child is sick. You have a productivity goal for the week, but someone throws a proverbial grenade at work and your priorities go sideways. You and your spouse decide on a firm budget for the month, but the HVAC goes on the fritz and your designated savings allotment gets blown.
The truth is, so much of our lives are beyond our control so we cling tightly to the thing—anything—under our jurisdiction. But that still leaves us overwhelmed with others falling victim to our dominating behavior, and answers still beyond our grasp.
Lately, I’ve loosened my grip on control. Instead of managing, I gently lead. Instead of administrating, I serve. Instead of reigning over, I yield. And you know, I’m finding this open-handed posture is freeing to say the least.
Surrendering control doesn’t mean I don’t have goals, vision, and dreams. It doesn’t mean I fly by the seat of my pants, abandon my habits, or make no plans. I’m a Type A personality and an Enneagram 8, people. I have plans. Lots of em. But handing my dreams back to the One who placed them on my heart in the first place is realigning and peaceable.
“I am the Lord’s servant. Make everything you have said about me come true.” Luke 1:38 NLT
Today, I’m going to practice patience with my verbally abusive toddler. Remembering that she’s just trying to run her own little corner of the world because it’s all she has right now. Reminding her that she still has choices and I’m here to guide her through those. Offering a hand and an empathic ear. Giving a hug when we’re both frustrated. Trying again.