“Claire, tell them what Briggs is.”
“He’s spicy nicey”
And then fake laughter ensues because no one thinks your kids are quite as funny as you do. Its our party line (we go to very different parties than you… think more grape juice less wine). It came from reading a book Briggs liked that said spicy nicey combined with a brief biting stint he went through (and by brief I mean 6 months of his only 20 month life). It was cute when Claire started saying it and you know if the shoe fits.
See my first born is the sweet rule follower, she tricked me into believing I had this whole parenting bit down, so then he brother came along a short 19 months later to humble the proud. My in laws laugh now because they knew what I only recently realized, about 99% of my parental success of my first born was pure temperament. She genuinely likes making people happy, she enjoys helping, and when I told her no she simply accepted that as an answer and went on her merry way (while I pated myself on the back and wondered why everyone said this parenting thing was so hard). Enter Briggs, my spirited second born, who I should have known wanted things his own way when he made his arrival 3 weeks early. He thinks “come here” means run away quickly and hide. He thinks “no” is something you shout back at someone when they tell you not to do something and he thinks all toys are “MINE.” In short he’s spicy nicey. The nice part is added because he also is a big cuddler, loves his sister a ton and shows it with large bear hugs turned tackles, and will makes everyone laugh. They are pretty perfect compliments and while I often find him in a corner trying to open the liquid Tylenol to make sure I know where the nearest ER is he is perfectly him.
If we aren’t careful we can label our children in two ways… good or bad. Claire by the world standards is good and Briggs is bad. I don’t agree, I think some kids are just better at faking it than others.
I want my kids to know even the best faker doesn’t fool God or meet Gods standard of holy. See we are all rebels, it is planted in our hearts from the fall, we want to run from God/authority and some of us just suck at faking it.
I was one of those kids, one of the bad ones. My parents affectionately referred to my brand of childhood antics as having “one of those.” It was not a mystery that Iwas a hard kid. I wanted to be obedient, I really did, but I was so curious and mischievous and I had three boys to help me accomplish such things. Now my parents were also good at praising my good qualities but this isn’t a blog post about that… moving on. I remember believing early on that I was a lot to handle. I was never a “typical” girl and I often wished I could be less loud and more graceful. I wasn’t. I was just me. I was ADHD to the max and never exceled greatly at school or sports. I know now that who I am is just fine (the whole writing a book bit helped… kidding). As an adult I’ve learned a lot of the things God created in me are the things he knew I would need for his kingdom. He has gifted me perfectly to pour my life back into him and I believe he has done the same with each of my children. I think all too often the qualities the world labels as “bad” are things God sees and says, I can’t wait to use that.
Claire and Briggs have been in swimming lessons and let’s just say Briggs hasn’t enjoyed it quite like Claire has. I was telling a few people separately that Briggs hated lessons and his teacher overheard me and said, “Don’t say that… he will believe whatever you tell him.” So simple yet so profound. My kids will believe whatever I tell them. If I send Claire the message that she can get by in life on her own as long as she keeps everyone happy she will never see her need for God. If I tell Briggs he is wild and crazy he will believe it and never understand that wild and crazy can be great things when aligned with the right passions. Whatever we tell them, they will believe.
I have stopped praying for God to make Briggs less strong willed or more compliant, instead I have prayed God would teach me to turn his passion and will into a man of God who stands for all the right things. Let’s be real the world could use more men like that. I don’t want my son to roll over in the face of injustice or cruelty, I want him to stand strong and yell NO right back at it. I don’t pray that Claire keeps making my life easy all the days of her life, I pray God would be real to her, I pray she would see we can never perform our way to perfection. I pray she sees that mercy and grace are her best friends. I pray she knows God loves her even on her worst day. I want my kids to always know, that they were perfectly created for God’s purpose. I tell Claire all the time she is beautiful and then I ask her if she knows why I think she’s beautiful. She smiles big and asks why, I tell her because God gave her a beautiful heart that loves others. God can make any heart beautiful, let us never forget it.
Ezekiel 36:26New Living Translation (NLT)
26 And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart.[a]