I can do it BY MYSELF!

*This is the first in a series of old stories about my kids and the many life lessons they have taught me.  This was written about a year ago.  Eli still struggles a bit with getting dressed, but he has improved dramatically.

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If your kid talks, you have probably heard this phrase.  Ahh, the intoxicating power of new-found independence.  Whether it is getting dressed, making the bed, fixing lunch, buckling the car seat, going potty, doing a puzzle, reaching something clearly OUT of reach, well basically everything except picking up toys in our household, they can do it ALL BY THEMSELVES!!  Or so they think.

Eli is very set on dressing himself these days.  At 2 and a half, I admire his efforts.  This is also the one time I am glad he gets up by 6a.m.  Every single day.  It pretty much takes him from 6a.m. til time to leave- 7:30a.m.- to do it himself!  And oh its a fun, though sometimes painful, spectacle to watch.

First, of course, he has to remove his pajamas.  Pants are no problem.  A little too easy actually.  They often come off with shoes when we walk in the door.  Anyone that has seen pictures of my kids at home can attest to this.  Socks.  Sometimes easy, sometimes it looks like he caught on fire and is implementing stop drop and roll.  But he usually gets them off fairly quickly.  Eli still sleeps in a diaper, and thank God that is NOT easy for him to remove!  Ohhhh the horror stories I have heard about those kids that remove their own diapers (and how sorry I am if you have one of *those* kids)!!  Removing the diaper is usually a good ten minute process.  He will tug on it a bit.  Whine a bit.  Then pull a while.  Cry a while.  Push for a minute, pout for a minute.  In the end he can usually manage this himself as well.

He usually skips to underwear next, because he is pretty good at the underwear.  So good, in fact, he will change them every time he pees if not watched carefully.  I try to lay them out for him, and remind him that the tag goes by the floor.  I am not allowed to actually TOUCH the underwear though.  And I usually get a call from my mom after the first potty break of the day informing me that his underwear were on inside out/backwards/sideways or a combination of the three.  Pants next.  With a little prompting on front vs. back, these are not too problematic.

That brings us to the shirts.  First up, the wrestling match that is Eli trying to remove his own pajama top.  Yelling, grunting, some tears.  Sometimes a quick tug from Mom when his face is covered by the shirt and he can’t see!  Then of course, we go through the same to get the new shirt on.

Shoes.  Eli loves boots.  Particularly mud/rain boots.  He has several pair and wears them year round.  This is great because the are easy for him to get on (and off, which is not so great…).  I would guess, however, that his “feet are in the wrong boots” about 75% of the time.  I used to try to correct this, but then I realized he changed them back when I wasn’t around so it really isn’t worth the effort.

All of that doesn’t even account for brushing his hair or teeth, getting his vitamin or eating any breakfast.  Really it is no wonder the boy took a morning nap until he was well over 2!  It is exhausting just watching.

One morning when I was surprisingly lucid (I must have slept through the baby crying or something), I thought about how many things *I* do the hard way.  MY way.  How many things in my life have I insisted on doing all by myself?

When I am watching Eli, I often think about stepping in.  I know that if he would just let me do it, or even just help him, it could be much faster and easier.  But, I also know that it is my job as his parent to help him learn to do things on his own.  That doesn’t mean that I can’t give him guidance on how his underwear go, or sneak that tug on the pajama top when he wont notice.  As 2 Timothy 3:16 notes:

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,

God wants great things for us.  Yet so often we get in the way of those things.  We rely so much on ourselves and our ability to get things done all on our own that we don’t hear when He is trying to tell us how our underwear go.  And like toddlers we are so set on going it alone that we bat away His helping hand.

John 5:30 reminds us “By myself I can do nothing”.  Though most of us never completely outgrow that toddler zeal for doing things on our own, we have to remember we have the greatest teacher, the best parent, that longs to let Him do His will in our lives.

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