The two blondes are taking swim lessons once again. Their teacher "Mr. Matt" is fabulous with them, no matter how hard they make him work for his money. After the first lesson, Mr. Matt said to me with a careful smile, "You've got your hands full..." I smiled (what else could I do?) as I wrapped them up in their towels. Then he said this, pointing first to Asher and then to Brody, "That one there is stubborn, and the other one's Squirrelly." I nodded matter-of-fact-like and said, "And I left the strong one at home."
As I drove away from the swimming pool, with the scent of Chlorine still heavy in the air, I thought back again to the descriptors we had just used: Strong, Squirrelly, and Stubborn. Yep, that just about sums 'em up, in perfect succession.
Which brings me to the main reason I signed my children up for swim lessons this fall. For most people, the purpose behind swim lessons is water safety... But there is a second runner up that carries a lot of weight when raising strong-willed boys. Obedience. Whether it's swim lessons or pee-wee sports, gymnastics or little tiger karate, having other authority figures partner with us is an invaluable help.
If you know us personally or have followed this blog long enough, you know that my boys didn't come forth from the womb compliant. They've pushed, and struggled, and refused to submit each step of the way, both here at home and in the world around them. And so I've found that swim lessons and soccer teams, as well as going to school, allows them to exercise their honoring muscles (though often times they simply flex their ornery muscles!)
I remember when reading Dobson's "The Strong Willed Child", that he gave multiple pictures of what "Strong-willed" might look like. Much of the time these children fit and fight at home, only to go to school and display exemplary behavior for their teachers. Parents of such children are shocked at back-to-school night, and each time a "Student of the Month" certificate comes home. Yeah... that's not our sort of strong-willed personalities. Our boys take their strong, squirrelly, and stubborn natures everywhere they go.
And yes, it's exhausting in case you were wondering.
But last night as I crawled into bed (spent beyond my own strength) I recalled a conversation I had with my Dad this Summer. I cried "I'm not a strong willed personality... I'm not strong at all... And there are three of them, and they're all stronger than me." My Dad's response was firm and trustworthy, "You are strong, and if you think you are or not, you still have to be."
It was a charge that I needed to hear and to heed.
It is my job to be stronger than these blessed little balls of burps, belly-aches and blunders. It's their job to push at boundaries as they grow, in order to learn their place in our home and eventually in the world we live in. It's my job to be consistent, with long-suffering and kindness. It's their job to eventually succumb and submit to their mother's grace-based strength. It's my job to persevere even when I don't see much fruit. And when the job needs more strength than I feel I have, it's my job to rely upon my heavenly Father to fuel me up with His strength to get the job done!
It's our job, if we think we're equipped for it or not.