My two year old has recently decided that naps are for babies. "Me no sleep. No need nap, Mommy!" She assures me as she rubs her little raccoon eyes. "Oh really," I say casually. "Well, you can always just rest for awhile like the big boys. Just make sure you close your eyes."
"I just read. Me read, okay?" She asks.
"You can read for a little while, love and then you need to lay down and rest.
"Sure, Mommy. Sure!" She smiles a winning smile as she snuggles into her bed with a princess book.
And then she doesn't sleep. She reads, jumps in her bed, sings, talks to her Pooh bear then finally screams, "Mommy! I'm awake!"
I was patient the first two days but on the third day, I knew how badly she needed to sleep. She had spent most of the morning crying and it was so stressful. I decided to take a tough mom approach. I marched into her room determined to lay down the law.
"Rosie, lay down. Enough of this. You have to sleep," I said firmly.
"You scared me!" She wailed and fell into a fit of tears.
"I didn't mean to scare you. I love you. Now go to sleep." I closed the door gently and headed back downstairs.
This whole routine repeated itself another time as my oldest son looked on. "Mommy, why don't you let me give it a shot?" He asked. I was frustrated with the situation (Mommy needed a BREAK!) and so I told him to go ahead. I turned on the monitor and watched in awe as the scene unfolded.
"Hi baby girl! Hi! Are you okay?" He said gently.
"Oh, I'm sorry you are sad. Would you like me to read you a book? Is this one good?"
They began to read together and I heard her take a deep breath, visibly calming down. "Okay, Rosie," he said as he closed the book. "It's time for your nap. Here, let me cover you up. Do you need Pooh bear?"
"Yes pwease!" He handed her the bear gently and she said, "Tanks, Luke."
I smiled and opened up my book. Two minutes later the crying began again. I sighed deeply, feeling the frustration build again. And then I heard her door crack open.
"Uh oh! What happened?" He asked her.
"I have a boo boo!"
"Let me get you a bandaid!" He ran to the bathroom and bandaged her scratch from two days ago as if it was brand new. "Better?"
"Better! Tanks, Luke"
"Your welcome! Night night!"
And guess what? That baby girl went right to sleep. My son taught me something that day. He taught me that it's always better to be kind and merciful. It's always better to seek to understand and meet someone where they are instead of telling them what they should do or feel. He reminded me the value of selfless love. I am so thankful.
When our children frustrate us, we have a choice. We can act out in anger and annoyance or with mercy and kindness. I pray that you have time to take a deep breath today and choose the loving route, no matter what. Will you say the same prayer for me?