Merciful Monday: Perspective
It’s another Monday and it’s time for me to once again say, “Have Mercy!” in this third installment of Merciful Monday!
To Stink Bugs: Have Mercy! So I’ve seen a lot of you around these parts this summer, but apparently, it’s going to get worse. Much worse. A few weeks ago, I found a strange-looking bug and squashed it with a paper towel. My wife asks, “Are you sure that wasn’t a stink bug?” So I *sniff* and YUP. Stink bug. And apparently, the scent you release acts like some smelly feet scented SOS signal, attracting more and more stink bugs. In the Washington Post article, Mike Raupp, a University of Maryland entomologist and extension specialist said, “I think this is going to be biblical this year.” Biblical? Have mercy stink bugs! I’ll let your people go! Just don’t invade my home!
To D1: Have Mercy! You are my firstborn and you’ll always hold a special place in my heart. As I wrote before, mommy and I had some difficulty conceiving you, but through that experience, every time I look at you, I see my very great reward. You brought so much joy and laughter into our lives. At times, parenting was really difficult and sometimes, I wish you came with a return policy or at least an instruction manual, but through it all, I grew more and more in love with you.
The last few weeks, however, I’ve lost perspective. You see, you are a remarkable child – and while every parent thinks that of their kids, you really are (again, most parents will say that). By age 1 you were talking. We bought a baby signing DVD but we didn’t need it because you could communicate everything you wanted. Shortly thereafter, you knew most people’s names at church and could say their name when we pointed to them. By 14 months, you would record voice messages singing happy birthday to people from church. You were speaking full sentences by 18 months and knew cause & effect shortly thereafter, e.g., you would say, “Appa. It’s raining, so we need an umbrella.” You memorized many, many songs, impressing anyone who heard. You fooled many into thinking that you could read because you had all of your books memorized. Many would marvel at how well you spoke and most called you genius baby. You figured out how to unlock my iPhone–unremarkable in this day and age–and could put in and play your own CDs and tapes. And most would attribute how fast your brain was developing to the fact that both of your parents were engineering majors.
Yet, this remarkable gift you have is a blessing and a curse. Because you are so advanced mentally, I find I tend to expect a lot of you and that often leaves me frustrated. Prior to D2 being born, I spoke with you regularly and you seemed to understand what was going to happen. You seemed genuinely excited about having a baby sister, even memorizing several books about welcoming a new baby. So when you reacted to D2 the way you did, I was surprised–yes, it was stupid of me to expect so much emotionally of such a young child. Lately, when we are driving in the car and D2 makes a sound, you shout very loudly at her, which causes her to cry and then you to shout louder. This would be perfectly acceptable for most 2.5 year olds, but once again, because of your advanced mental capabilities, I expected more and this left me flustered and frustrated with you.
When you began going up to our children’s church, we thought you’d have few issues. We were wrong. Your grandmother watches you, so we made efforts to take you to public places and on play dates so that you’d begin to learn social norms. While the other kids your age were relatively happy playing amongst themselves, you tried to play with the older kids, and as expected, you were often left out. Frankly, it made me sad when the other kids would plot against you saying, “Oh NO! D1 is coming! Let’s run away,” or “Let’s hide this so that D1 can’t play with it too,” but I didn’t want to step in at every conflict. Lately, you’re fighting back. You’ve perfected the snatch-and-run and I often find the older kids telling on you, complaining that you’re not sharing and such. I think because I’m an Asian parent who wants a well-behaved child and I don’t want to be that parent that sits idly by while their child misbehaves, I would take you aside and discipline you for inappropriate behavior every time something like this occurred. The other kids usually got off scot-free, not because their parents didn’t care, but because older kids are better at hiding potential misdeeds. Trust me – I got away with a lot of stuff while your aunt used to get punished.
And the last few weeks, you’ve been really whiny and difficult to deal with. Compound this with the fact that we’ve been tired, our schedules hectic, and your mother and I rarely have time to sit down and reflect, and you’ve got a lot of crying and a lot of disciplining. Rather than being patient with you and understanding how difficult it has been for you to adapt to no longer being the center of attention at home and adjusting to social norms among older kids who often don’t want to play with you, I’ve made life harder on you. I’ve lost perspective.
Rather than seeing you as a gift from God that I am charged with caring for, loving, and molding for the early part of your life, I became frustrated. Rather than praising you for your unique abilities, I harped on what you lacked. Rather than being an understanding parent, I ruled with a judgmental, iron fist. I’ve lost perspective.
But the nice thing about perspective is that you can get it back if you want. So last night, as your mother and I were in bed discussing your behavior as of late and finally taking time to reflect, we realized we have been in the wrong. We so wanted you to be perfect, all along failing to see that you are a perfect gift from God. Both your mother and I are firstborns in Korean homes and a lot was expected of us and we unwittingly put that same pressure on you. And as if on cue, it began to rain. A lot. As I wrote before, rain reminds me that Jesus’ blood washes away all my sins. I lost perspective but I’ve gotten it back.
You’ll probably never read this but this is a reminder to me to never lose perspective on the wonderful gift you are. I love you.