Little boxes on the hillside
Little boxes made of ticky tacky
Little boxes all the same
There’s a green one and a pink one
And a blue one and a yellow one
And they’re all made out of ticky tacky
and they all look the same….
…And they all get put in boxes and they all come out the same- Pete Seeger, Little Boxes
This year, let’s resolve NOT to put our children in little boxes and expect them to come out just the same.
Let’s not fall into the comparison trap. Children adopted from hard places tend to have a younger emotional age than their physical age. When I met my youngest son, he was fifteen months old- developmentally he was nine months. He could not walk or talk. His crawling was stiff and mechanical. He could not eat solid foods. When he smiled, the room brightened. His laughter was a balm for my soul. How could I not rejoice in him? How could I expect him to join his peers on the growth chart back here in the states or be disappointed that he couldn’t eat a french fry or toddle across the room?
Years later, surgeries, solid food, running, schooling the comparison crevasse loomed underneath me, beckoning me to fall into the deep dark painful trap that sucks in parents and children alike, bruising them, opening old wounds, digging angrily into old scars.
Why is he a grade behind?
He doesn’t know his phone number?
I don’t think he belongs in this class, he just can’t understand the material.
Why isn’t he playing with the others?
Don’t fall in. It’s a consuming sludge that covers mind and heart. Escape.
Each of us desires praise for effort, not salt on an old wound. If-you-can’t-say-anything-nice-don’t say-anything-at-all doesn’t work with children from hard places. Say something!
Good job trying!
You can do it!
Remember when you couldn’t _________, now you can!
Look how great you are doing.
All of our children have scars. Everyone has a story with a plot that is playing out at this very moment. Will the main character win? Overcome? Become what he is meant to be? We parents are supporting characters in our children’s stories. Are we the wicked step-mother? The evil queen? Or are we like Much Afraid’s helpers (Hind’s Feet on High Places) helping her along, supporting her until she can walk on her own? Are we a Mordecai to an orphaned Esther- protecting,advising, training, admonishing and then praying and fasting her through when she must attempt the impossible, life-risking task to safe her people?
Let’s resolve to release our children from the little boxes and play a supporting role in their story!
For I know the thoughts and plans that I have for you, says the Lord, thoughts and plans for welfare and peace and not for evil, to give you hope in your final outcome. Jeremiah 29:11 (Amplified)