“Mommy, don’t watch me,” Alyssa grinned. I turned my head until she was finished. She proudly showcased her perfect letter K. I praised her.
“I drew it from bottom to top,” she gloated.
Sigh. I’ve wrestled with her letter-writing since I began my attempt at preschool at home. She seems determined to write each letter the way she wants to write them. I always blamed it on the fact that my psychology degree was a far cry from an education degree and I really had no idea what I was doing.
Seeing a Pattern
Then, as I looked into her bright eyes after her “bottom to top” announcement, it clicked. How she writes her letters is indicative of something deeper. Many other instances came to mind.
For example, I’m convinced my daughter is the only 4-year-old in the country who has no interest in Frozen and who proudly exclaims, “I hate princesses” (despite our admonition not to use the word “hate”). She loathes dresses and frills, and her favorite color is red, then blue, then pink. (At least pink made the top three, right?) She loves playing dress-up with her brother’s superhero costumes.
(That’s Alyssa in the middle, playing with her friends on a playdate.)
But she enjoys playing with fairies, baby dolls, and Barbies. She isn’t a total tomboy.
Is it Rebellion?
I was starting to get the feeling that there is more to this anti-girly thing than it seems. It is almost as if she “hates” princesses and dresses because that’s exactly what she is expected to like. That’s what every other girl her age likes so she is determined not to. It really has nothing to do with princesses or dresses.
It is the same with the letter K I realized. She wanted to write it her way. She didn’t want to take my word for it. She wanted to figure it out on her own.
Training her “according to her bent”
Alyssa is not a defiant child. In fact she’s generally very obedient. So I knew this wasn’t about training her to obey better. It was about who she is.
One of the most oft-misquoted verses in the Bible – in my opinion – is, “Train up your child in the way he should go, and in the end he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6). Most scholars believe that the literal translation “the way he should go” means to “according to his bent.” In other words, we as parents are to look at how God created them and train them to “go” in the unique path he created for them. As one author stated it (much more eloquently than I can recall), children are not blank paper where we write their stories but rather books that we read and guide in accordance with God’s word and their personality. (See this article for a deeper explanation.)
At that moment looking at Alyssa’s letter K, I read a chapter of her book. She won’t be one who will take what I say – or what any other authority says – at face value. She won’t be a “yes-woman.” She’ll want to figure it out on her own. She’ll question. And she’ll come to her own conclusion.
Not like her Mama
That’s hard for me to swallow! I have always followed authority to a fault. Rarely do I question an authority I trust. As a student I sought to do exactly as teachers wanted, so much so that I was devastated on the very rare days where I got my name on the board. I could probably name each time that happened in fact.
So to raise a daughter who will question even the most basic of instructions, might be a challenge! Teaching her respect while embracing her need to explore will be a line that may be difficult to walk. Encouraging her questions while teaching her absolute truth of Scripture will be a dance I’ll have to learn.
God’s beautiful creation – made for a purpose
Nevertheless, Alyssa is my perfect Father’s creation, and he has wonderful plans for this little explorer! I may wear out my knees in prayer in the teen and young adult years, and I may have to bear with her as she questions what I’d rather she not. I need to be ready for her to come to conclusions that are different from my own, while remaining steadfast in what matters – Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life, and no one will come to the Father but through Him (John 14:6).
But as she is growing into her finding who she is, I must remember to guide her in accordance to the bent that God created in her, knowing that he created this part of her for his ultimate glory, and he has plans I can’t comprehend.
What about your children? Whether you have small children or grown, or somewhere in between, what bent have you observed?
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