Living in close proximity to Cape Canaveral, we’ve seen rocket launches from our neighborhood. The spectacular contrail of smoke and fire can be seen for miles.
Then the first stage drops off in a fiery flare.
Ryken will be two in a few days; his first stage has disappeared in a puff of smoke.
He’s discovered personal autonomy.
There are substantive reasons for the two’s being a time of challenge and difficulty for parents. Children discover they’re independent of their parental units. They aren’t little appendages. They can make choices about what they’re going to do.
It’s not always pretty.
Our laid back, mellow little guy has transformed into a non-stop, fast-moving, negative-Norbert whirling dervish of contrary attitudes.
No is his favorite word.
(Why do parents ever ask their children if they want to do an activity that is positive or useful when the presumed answer will always be negative. “Do you want to get ready for bed?” “Are you kidding me, parental unit?”)
The other day Ryken let fly a toy at the head of a one-year-old. When she wanted to play with one of his toys, he’d lie on them, bodily burying them. All doors must be dead-bolted or he leaves the house for who knows what type of adventures. He climbs to the highest possible point he can. Launches himself from tops of couches and chairs. Has turned from a cautious little boy to a fearless marauder.
I just caught him dipping water out of the toilet with a Dixie cup. Not sure if he drank any or not.
It’s all biodegradable. Right?
How long can this stage last?
As long as it takes.
Much like a rocket, a measured amount of fuel–energy–needs to be burned through before the next stage can begin. Learning has to happen. Attitudes need to be shaped. Little people need to learn they’re not the center of the universe.
Me? Thinking I’m the center of my universe?
Maybe acting like I’m the center. Or epicenter. Where all the turbulence happens.
Moving through life stages is growth. Learning to segue from one season to another with a seamlessness that comes from wisdom and good choices.
Which I don’t always do. I have a few opinions on how I should be doing and what I need to do life well. Like Ryken, I can get a little preoccupied with what I want.
That would be me in the center.
God is well aware of my self-centeredness. My tendency to burn through my agenda–and other people. My capacity to burn out. I want to improve in the wise-choice area, the faithful-walk-and-talk piece of life. Maturity. I can get a little preoccupied with self.
He doesn’t condemn, mock or shame me because I’m not growing faster in my faith. He doesn’t compare me or criticize me to others.
He picks me up when I’ve fallen yet again. Brushes me off. Sets me back on the launch pad.
And encourages me to try again. In hope. With grace.
That’s the fuel that keeps me going for a long time.