Screams issued from my son’s irate maroon-colored face. He kicked the tray attached to his highchair and struggled against the buckles holding him to his seat. Despite acting hungry at 5:00, he rejected the meal I labored to prepare for him. He had been ornery for the past hour, and I was exhausted and angry. I stormed out of the room, leaving him in his highchair, while I therapeutically fold laundry. (Breathe in. Fold. Breathe out. Fold. Remember you love your child. Fold. Breathe.)
Five minutes later – a toddler’s eternity – I let him down from his chair. His food was untouched and his temper had worsened. At that moment, we heard the rumbling muffler on my husband’s truck, and the key turn in the door. Without a hello, a kiss or a “how was your day,” I handed him our son. “Take him before I kill him.”
He, too, could not cheer the child and no discipline strategy seemed to influence his behavior. We ate our meal without tasting it and decided to let the child cry in his crib until he calmed down. My husband carried him upstairs and just before placing him in his bed, changed his diaper. To his disgust, he found it full of solid waste.
The poor child’s bum had been irritated by the diaper since 4:00 that afternoon. I thought of all the signals I missed. He had pointed to his diaper, pulled at his pants, sat down on his training toilet. He was uncomfortable sitting and only wanted to be held upright or standing. No wonder he fussed so at being placed in his highchair!
After a warm bath and a change, we offered him second dinner and our apologies. He forgave us and completely forgot about the incident, as only very young children can do.
I have not forgotten.
Parenting has been a long series of lessons about my own failures and my heavenly Father’s mercies. I might not know how to care for my child, but I am grateful that I have a God knows my physical and spiritual needs and desires to meet them. Sometimes I may not always like His mercies to me – just as my son does not relish diaper changes – but His work is good work, even when it’s uncomfortable.