let kids watch beauty and the beast

Parenting in the dark

My peonies have had buds for what seems like months, covered in ants looking for the sweet resin but never showing a single petal. I began to worry that something was wrong. I went to the internet and found that there were indeed things that would cause a peony to bud yet never bloom. I watched over them. Studied them every time I walked by on the way to or from the car. Wondered if I should do something . . .or simply wait. I waited. The peonies in town came into bloom. Those few that were as large as mine were so heavy with their blossoms they were leaning over and touching the ground. Still, I waited.

And just as I finally gave up, they burst forth in all their blossoming splendor.

I am reminded a bit of parenting. Of the time we put into our children. Cultivating interests, instilling character, watching for signs of growth. My son especially has been a challenge. He’s been removed from the Y, removed from nursery, removed from Sunday School, removed from AWANAs.

High praise from his teacher last year was,

“For him, he was good.”

Improvement is always good, but still not quite the report a mom wants to hear.

Two years ago, after a consultation with a Sunday School teacher, I confessed that his behavior was being evaluated by his pediatrician. No one thought he was to the point of needing medication, especially since he was homeschooled and we were able to control his environment a little better. Autism spectrum had been discussed but ruled out. Time and consistency were prescribed.

I walked away from the conversation torn. Part of me didn’t want to share the information. It was personal. Part of me wanted to hide behind some sort of professional diagnosis. Like some sort of proof that I wasn’t just a bad parent.

Between the biting, the pica, the hand licking . . . well, there has been a lot of prayers, a lot of tears and a lot of searching. Friends, acquaintances, strangers and even the internet all had suggestions. Some of them were good, others not so good. All of them assumed there was something we could do.

And we did try things. All sorts of things, it seems. But mostly, we waited.

The hardest part about parenting is that when you are in the middle of it, you have no real way of discerning who is right, or if anyone is right. When to “try harder,” or when to relax. When to change, or when to just wait. You’re parenting in the dark.

Now, he’s only seven. We do not yet know if he will fully blossom as we hope, nor even exactly what kind of blossom that might be. But I don’t worry about it as much. My stomach doesn’t knot up when I leave him in someone else’s care. I can bring him to a 4-H meeting and not wonder if I’m going to have to leave with him part way through. He may not exactly be “normal,” but he behaves well enough in his own high energy and determined sort of way that I finally feel like he is benefiting from group activities and not just a burden on teachers and other children.

I no longer feel like we are just treading water, trying to get through another day, fearing what the future holds for this boy I love so much.

Lord, I see many buds developing in this young man’s life. Look over them and help them to blossom.