Perhaps it is because I have a little one in the house, but lately, I am reminded how many life lessons really are the basics we learned in preschool and Kindergarten.
In the thick of life with a 3-year-old and three uniquely wired 14-year-olds, I keep coming back to the truth that the process--messy, painful, chaotic and tender as it may be-- IS what parenting is about. The maturity we hope for our children to gain, the growth we expect and the strength we want to launch them into adulthood having is all built here and now, in the gym of growing up.
Our human tendency is to run from mess, failure and conflict. As my children encounter various trials and confront areas of immaturity, I want to hit fast forward and hurry on to the other side, even though I know better. I like efficiency and finality. Frankly, I don't enjoy the laborious process of trial and error. I want the payoff, but wish there were ways to microwave the process--to speed it up and minimize the pain.
Thinking about this recently I heard the old children's song in my head, "Goin' on a Bear Hunt." If you are unfamiliar with the song, it recounts a fictional walk through the woods where multiple obstacles are encountered. There are various versions, but at the end of each obstacle comes a familiar refrain, something along the lines of:
"I'm not scared. No, I'm not scared.
We can't go over it,
We can't go under it,
We can't go around it.
We just have to go through it."
ADHD, Anxiety, hormones, ego, impulse control, truth-telling, learning to navigate relationships...all these current challenges in my home and their accompanying emotions are exhausting. But there is no question in the breaking down and the rebuilding up emotional, psychological and spiritual muscles are born.
My fledgling young adults are trying out their wobbly emotional and social legs in front of an audience of the world. In a baby giraffe we would ooh and ahh, but in a teenager, we tend to cringe and/or judge. The world keeps telling us that stumbling is a sign of failure, but it really is the precursor to walking.
So I am spending a lot of time praying, deep breathing and sometimes, I confess, peeking between the fingers of my covered eyes. I don't want to watch the stumbles, but I know they are essential to learning to walk and then run the race set before us.
"We can't go over it, we can't go under it, we can't go around it. We just have to go through it..."