Out of the four children I have, one of them is a two-year-old girl. She is the apple of my eye and makes my heart smile every day. She is the quirkiest and most humorous young lady. But no amount of positive attributes can hide the fact that she is still a two-year-old. It’s the transition year where they grow from being blabbering blobs to becoming self-expressing, opinionated children. They have all these emotions but very little words. They have all these desires but zero experiential knowledge. That’s why it’s typically called the Terrible Twos (although I would never go so far to call it quite that).
When it comes to parenting a toddler I would say that the highs are really high and the lows are very low. They can melt your heart with a hug just as quickly as they could sear it with just one of their tantrums. Today was one of those days when my heart was seared. The night before, my darling Third woke up at 1:00 a.m., 2:30 a.m., and 5:30 a.m. By the 5:30 a.m. mark, I knew there was no point in fighting it, so I allowed her to come downstairs with me as I prepared her breakfast. She protested the breakfast. In fact, she protested nearly every one of my requests and suggestions. I tried to reason, but she refused to listen. I just about had it. However, in the moment when I was about to snap, the Spirit in me gave me just one more breath of patience. In that breath, I was also reminded of something I do on occasions like this. I kneel.
I got down on my knees, and I looked at my girl in the eyes. The moment I do this, the intensity of any level of frustration would usually go down at least a few notches. Angry wailing became a somber whimper. From then, a semblance of communication started to take place. It took a few tries at first, but eventually I got a nod and an attempted phrase to express to me what she really wanted. It was milk. She wanted warm milk. But, in the beginning, my storming down the stairs and furrowed eyebrows communicated to her that I was not approachable. My barking of commands also communicated to her that I wasn’t willing to listen to her desires. I was washing dishes, pacing the living room, and on the phone reading emails. This tiny human wanted to connect with me, but I was beyond reach. As we were eye to eye and as my voice gently lowered, I became accessible. I became available. As I got to her level, she heard me.
Kneeling to talk to an upset toddler does not fix all two-year-old problems. However, in my experience, it is always the beginning of a connection. I’d like to believe that it’s just as Jesus would have done. God could have come to our depraved world with chariots of fire, and He could have wielded his holy wrath against our rebellious mess. He could have even come in the form of an angry king. But, no, He knelt lower than that. He did not come with riches or with majesty. He knelt even lower. He knelt so low that the commoners, the outcast, and the weak were all able to hear the love in His voice. He became accessible. Available.
He made a connection before He called for correction. I believe we, as parents, are called to attempt the same.
“And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross!” —Philippians 2:8