this one broke the mold

The Handy Man and I have eight children: the two I married when I married him and who I raised as my own, and the six we have had since then. I think we have a pretty good idea of what parenting is about; not that we are perfect or haven’t made mistakes, but at least we have a better idea than the childless or even the first or second time parent. One advantage to having more than the average two children, aside from having a better built-in retirement plan being way more blessed, is that we have the opportunity to see so many different character traits at work in our own home.

We thought we had this parenting thing down, at least as well as a parent can ever have it. That is until this one came around:

Not that he isn’t extremely cute and charming. He is. He is amazingly smart, too–we obviously have an engineer in the making on our hands. Or a musician. Or a poet. Or maybe just a criminal. I am not quite sure at this point. The point is that this one baffles us.

He is just under two years old and refuses to keep a diaper on. No problem–potty train that kid!–you might say. Except he doesn’t want to sit on the potty, either. No, he wants to use the toilet. In the bathroom. We can accommodate a lot of things while homeschooling, naked toddlers among them. I just don’t see us all jamming into the bathroom doing our school work while little mister decides if he really needs to go now or not. It would be so much easier if he would use the little potty chair the rest of the children were content to use. He apparently pees marches to the beat of his own drummer. All I can say is that I am very glad we have mostly hard floors because carpeting would be ruined.

This one likes to take things apart. Toys. Coat racks. The sofas in the living room. The roll of tape. DVD cases. And he loves to open the six gallon buckets in which we keep all our grain (corn, wheat, rye, spelt, lentils, etc.) and to mix them all up in a mad-man scientist concoction of mystery ingredients. It was painful, but I threw away about a gallon of mixed grains. I couldn’t imagine eating it after his sweet little grubby hands had handled it. Ewww.

And then there is his artistic side. He colors himself in vivid colors from head to toe with magic markers. We have taken to hiding them, but he finds them every single time. The kid has a nose for markers. He LOVES nail polish, too, especially the hot pink nail polish his older sisters like to wear. He first opened a bottle and dumped it all over the floor and his sister’s bed. An entire bottle of hot pink fingernail polish will ruin carpet and bed sheets, just in case you didn’t know that. The next day he found another bottle of pink nail polish (my girls must buy stock in the stuff) and decorated his older sister’s white guitar. Thankfully a different sister caught him in the act of carnage and was able to spare the guitar from a lifetime of pink humiliation. The little man loves his paint, apparently.

This is the child who will not go to sleep at night. He will go to bed and even stay in bed, for he knows that disobedience will be dealt with appropriately. But he also knows that we cannot force him to sleep. So he stays in his bed and sings. And talks. And plays. And sings more–many nights until 11 PM.

And then there is his constant need for attention. We have a drama queen or two. We have a strong willed child….or three. We have the children who need to be touched and hugged more than the others because their love language is touch. This one–he demands it all. He wants to be held, but on HIS terms. He wants to read stories, but only when HE wants to read, usually right in the middle of a phonics lesson with his six year old sister. And when he doesn’t get what he wants, he screams. Loudly. It is fun living with satan’s spawn a demanding child when trying to oversee the education of the others. It is tempting to think that I did not sign up for this, but the truth is that his need for attention would be an issue even if we were not homeschooling our children. And I am called to love him anyway. Usually, all I have to do is look at his adorable marker-covered face and I know it is all worth while. And when that doesn’t work, I pray.

I am not sure where this one came from. He has reinforced for us that we are all indeed born with a sinful nature. He is also so very cute, and when he isn’t being horrible to other children or demanding of the adults in his world, he really is a sweet little guy. People are always shocked that this little one could possibly be all the trouble we claim he is. Just ask our church nursery attendant. The older children are turning out mostly okay–our older girls are all kind, compassionate and responsible human beings. Our next two are pretty neat kids, too, on the whole. This one broke the mold. And I love him not just in spite of it, but because of it. He is going to be an amazing adult some day…if he doesn’t turn to a life of crime. I guess we’ll just have to train him in the way he should go (as Proverbs tells us to do) and trust that when he is old he really won’t depart from that teaching. I anticipate an exciting ride with this one. Molds were meant to be broken, anyway, weren’t they?

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