My husband (I call him Mr. Geek 'round here) married in 2001 and have been having the adventure of our lives ever since. He is a software engineer and I have worked for my family's business as our 'day jobs' with lots of hobbies and volunteer ventures on the side. Ventures like coaching high school cheerleading and choreographing show choir and musicals. Together we enjoyed singing in church choir and dancing with a Latvian Folk dancing troupe, Perkonitis. The word, 'Surprised,' would be an understatement to describe how we felt when we learned we were expecting twins in 2004. But we were thrilled.
Helen and Ingrid are a huge blessing to us, and a huge drain on our energy...because they have SO much of it! They are 'identical' twins. One is right-handed and one is left-handed, some would call this 'mirror twins'. They love using scotch tape and markers to make things and pretending to be guinea pigs Born in 2005, they are now in first grade. Ingrid and Helen are what some would politely call 'spirited' or high-needs children. But we didn't know any better, we thought all children were that way - until we had more kids, who were obviously NOT high needs! And thank goodness, because there just wasn't a whole lot of us left to go around!
Nora and Stella were born in 2009 and are currently two years old. God knows what he is doing because being a parent has not only been a great joy, but also a great teacher. And Nora and Stella are an essential part of that experience. Soon after they were born, the world of parenting started to make so much more sense. The critical tones of well-meaning acquaintances suddenly became understandable. Afterall, they had normal children - and usually only one at a time! We had four, and even just 2 of them demanded every ounce of patience, love and mercy we had. Of course it seemed to them we were sub-standard parents, our oldest children were indeed challenging in ways that they could not comprehend. Yes, medically, developmentally, and by all early measurable standards, they were normal. So why were we 'accepting' poor behavior and not 'fixing' it. Those are profound questions, and ones that may only be fully understood by another parent of such a child.
Though we had much guilt over this early in their life, as if we somehow contributed to their difficult behavior, or even created it, we have grown to believe otherwise. To us, it is very clear that a child's temperament is, to a large degree, born with the child - not created by the parents and environment. But of course parents have influence, and ultimately, whether the child learns to harness his temperament and use it for good is the responsibility of the parents. And so the focus of our influence has been to our children's hearts and souls, where it is most needed, in hopes that a desire to love us and one another well will give them internal motivation for good behavior. Of course behavior modification has its place with children for issues of safety and sanity, but it will only go so far in influencing a child whose heart is not able to love and trust his or her parents and world around them - especially as they get older.
Having patience and love for 'spirited' children in this way is the most difficult challenge in my life right now. The daily troubles and stresses can distract you from the joys to the point you forget why you wanted to be a parent in the first place. But we pray that by the grace of God we can overcome the trap of bitterness and negativity to instead learn and grow in patience and perseverance from the day-to-day challenges and ultimately focus on the great joy and opportunity our children have brought.