Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Fighting for Aaron’s Soul

If you are not a believer in spiritual matters, you may find this post
a little too religious or dramatic for your tastes. But I must say
that there are days when Amy and I feel we are fighting for Aaron's
soul.

Maybe his anger can be chalked up to painful ears, the frustrations of
not being able to communicate his needs, or the fact that he is 21
months old and that's what you do when you're a boy that age. And
yet, while we only have a sample size of two when it comes to
children, Aaron's outbursts seem unusually and abnormally vigorous.

The books say you can start introducing consequences at age 18 months:
if you drop your milk, you don't get back, or if you have a tantrum,
we'll put you in time-out. Diligently, we've tried with Aaron, but so
far to no avail. Not that we've given up; on the contrary, the last
thing we want is for him to learn that if he cries enough he can get
what he want, or that his naughty actions have no repercussions.

And yet nothing seems to be getting through to him. We've tried bear
hugs, slaps on the hand, and time-outs, and he's no closer to
understanding what is acceptable and unacceptable behavior. Again,
maybe once he gets his ears fixed and gets extra help with speech,
he'll settle down and we'll be able to teach him about good behavior.
But until then, it's been quite an ordeal.

Take this morning, for example. Breakfast has become a war zone, as
he alternates between waving away things and then screaming for them,
culminating in him throwing something down and then demanding it back
right away. Today was no different, as he worked himself into a
frenzy. I decided to take a different course of action.

I took him in my arms, sat down in the next room over, and held him
tight. He continued to flail away, shrieking the whole time. I held
on tighter, waiting for him to go limp, for him to accept this
tangible representation of love and safety. He refused, fighting me
the whole time. I began to pray over him, for God's love and
protection and deliverance. Still no let-up in his fight. I prayed
harder and louder; he swung harder and yelled louder.

I ended up holding him tight for almost 20 minutes. I used to wrestle
in junior high, and it's amazing how tired you can get in what seems
to be a short three-minute period, as you are constantly pushing,
pulling, grabbing, holding. Twenty years later, wrestling my
inhumanly strong son, I was similarly wiped out.

Even after almost 20 minutes, he still wasn't letting up, either in
the vigor of his flailings or in the desperation of his wails. I
finally let go, feeling somewhat defeated; despite literally and
figuratively holding on to him with all I had, he did not seem any
closer to me, to accepting that I love him, to understanding that he
is OK in my arms.

I could not help but think of how God holds onto us sometimes,
desperately trying to demonstrate the love and safety that can be had
in His arms, meanwhile us flailing away and getting no closer to
connecting with Him. He does not give up on us, and I will not give
up on Aaron, even as fighting for his soul was such hard work this
morning.

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