Lest I forget, I want to tell you about a typical day these days with Ana.
Now before I get too into this description, I have to tell you that I’m not the world’s most laid back person. I get agitated, irritated, and frustrated as much as the next person. But I’m fairly calm and even-tempered when I get that way. I know that I most certainly have it in me to scream, rant, pout, and manipulate to get my way in the world but have concluded that doing so is likely counterproductive in the long run and have vowed, as a result, that I will NEVER act like a… well, like a four year old drama queen.
Which brings me to Ana.
This typical day was today, and it’s nothing new. I still remember newborn Ana, red-faced and furious night after night because we were just not getting what she wanted us to get. Diaper change? NO! Bottle? NO! Rocking? NO! Just leaving her alone? NO, NO, NO! It got easier for a while, until about eighteen months when she learned to throw tantrums. I remember holding her little arms down to her sides while she thrashed and screamed, fighting to get out of my lap until she was so exhausted that we could calmly explain to her why she wasn’t getting whatever it was that she had already forgotten that she wanted. Whew!
And while things improved and the tantrums are gone, the drama… oh, the drama is still alive.
Typical day. Emma and I picked Ana up from preschool, and once we got home, I checked her parent/student activity binder and saw that today, she had practiced drawing circles. Her assignment for the night was to draw circles for every member of our family and decorate them. Easy enough, right? I had Ana sit down to do this, handed her a pencil, and she drew what I thought was a decent circle for her age. She gasped, then started SHOUTING, “Erase! Erase!” I erased it. She tried again, then quickly got angry and told me, “No, Mommy, I don’t WANT to draw a circle!” I explained that she needed to try, that it didn’t need to be perfect, and she began to cry. Through tears, she tried again, then began yelling, “It’s not PERFECT!!!” (Em, meanwhile, had picked up a pencil and was drawing at least sixteen lopsided and crooked circles on her own sheet of paper, singing, “Circle, circle, circle!” and laughing merrily as she did so. Could they be anymore different?!)
Nearly twenty sheets of paper and five tissues later, Ana had drawn her four circles. At two different points in this process (which included her clutching her hair and moaning, for real!), I told her, “Ana, we just have to pray.” I don’t say this because I’m intentionally trying to teach her how to pray in all circumstances. I say this every day (multiple times a day!) because her drama compels me to beg the Lord to do something supernatural in her hectic heart because I’m fresh out of ideas. I just feel so helpless when she goes off the deep end, despite my best efforts to calm her down. And as I’m praying with her and she’s sniffling and shaking, I’m counting on the Spirit to pray in ways I don’t even know to pray.
But I’m encouraged nonetheless. Today was fairly rotten (this was not the only hysteria we prayed our way through in the past twenty-four hours), and I am totally exhausted. Ana and I tucked Emma in, then moved to her room to tuck her in, where I sat on her bed and told her I would pray for her, like I do every night. She told me she’d like to pray, and I told her to go for it. She prayed that God would help her to be calm and to have fun at school and to sleep well and to have sweet dreams and to be kind to Mommy and to share toys with Emma. I prayed for her and told her, “I love you.” She told me, a self-satisfied smile on her face, “Oh, I know that. I love you, too.” Whew. That’s good to hear, because I thought after a day like today, she was convinced that the entire world was against her!
I remember, on nights like tonight, that every part of who we are can be redeemed and used by God. Drama queen tendencies at four certainly indicate some passion and zeal, and I pray, every time that our little missy is having a meltdown over circles or something equally illogical, that this will surely translate to great passion and zeal for Christ. Her tendency to be OCD about things (like circles!!!) will surely show itself in thorough and consistent devotion to spiritual disciplines one day. And her stubborn ability to block out everything when she’s on a rampage will surely mean that she’ll be single-minded in her focus on serving the Lord.
God is far from done with any of us here in the Faulk house, and perhaps His greatest work in all this drama is not the drama queen herself but a clueless me who has to daily ask for guidance when it comes to navigating a minefield of preschool emotions. Praise God that He’s not done with me… and that He will lead me safely through the preteen years. (Oh, mercy…)
All that said, I wouldn’t change her at all. I love her just the way she is, hysterical explosions and all. Just trying to figure out who she needs me to be and how I can trust Him more on days like today…