One of my many "roles" in life, is that of nanny to two of the most precious little boys that have been a part of my fabulous life journey. The oldest is 4 (as of last week) and the youngest is 1 (also as of last week). I have been one of this families caregivers for almost 3 1/2 years. That means that for more than 3/4 of the oldest ones life, he has been an integral part of my identity.
The relationship of nanny to child is a very special and very unique one. I can't imagine the degree that a mother or father feel for their child, but I can tell you that not a day of my life passes without thinking about and praying for these two boys! They are somehow included in every story I have. Most every decision I make about my career, future, and even where I may choose to move at some point includes them in some way. In some sense, they are my family.
Today was quite possibly one of the most painful days in my life. This child that I have snuggled and cuddled, loved on, cooked for, cleaned for, prayed for, sacrificed for, banged ouchies for, struggled through the terrible two's...and three's with, and tried with all of my might to teach to have joy, love, honor, and respect; somehow managed to tear my heart to shreds today! No, my love for him has not diminished. In fact it may have grown. But today, this 40 pound, 40 inch, 4 year-old child brought to my heart a sadness that I don't think I have ever quite experienced to this depth.
As he is growing and establishing his own will and ability to choose for himself, there are certain to be bumps in the road. This I know. I have seen mother's weep because their precious baby said something like "I hate you" or "I don't like you". I imagine this feeling they experienced in these moments is probably something like what I experienced today.
One little boy, who I love so very much, managed in one day to try my patience like it has never been tried by a little boy before. I think that maybe the difference here is that I love this child more deeply than I have ever known love before. In a heartbeat I would climb mountains, swim oceans, give my life to protect his!
But perhaps what hurts most of all is that today I witnessed this precious, seemingly innocent baby sin. It was big, it was bold, and it was brash. And I find in my heart a bit of anger that the enemy managed to influence this amazing little boy into making a series of such hurtful choices in one day.
He refused to eat, he threw big tempers, and the very ugly words "shut up" came out of his tiny little mouth...hurled at me. He didn't trust me to provide for him. He didn't allow me to comfort, console, or convince him to change his path as he tread the deep and dangerous waters of defiance. In one day, he managed to lose every toy in his bedroom. With a painful but mouthy smirk he told me he didn't care if I took his toys away for the day - and he was NOT going to stop screaming at me!
I have been caring for children since I was twelve years old and teaching them for fifteen years now. I have worked in daycare, preschool, private kindergarten, mother's day out, church programs, early childhood intervention, family shelters and the like. I have been a nanny (live-in and live-out) for multiple families. I currently work as a children's pastor as well as a nanny for this particular family. I am not a stranger to discipline or tough love. I am not a push-over or a pansy. I am firm, stern, and absolutely loving! I have a patience and resolve with children that only comes as a gift from God. I cherish every child I work with, and have a special bond with those children who are labeled strong-willed or difficult. Probably because I was (and still am) a very strong-willed person. I know that these battles happen. And I know they can have the power to be lasting lessons for good. I know that when a child asserts their will over something as small as refusing to eat the egg (that they asked you to cook for them), there is often a much bigger battle taking place. And I feel pretty safe in declaring that it is a battle of the spiritual nature.
But even with all of the "practice" I have had in molding, shaping, pruning, and relinquishing to the Lord these small people; my heart was pricked ever so much more painfully today. Children - just like all of us adults - are on a journey. It is one of both wins and losses. And children - just like all of us adults - need to know that sin can be forgiven. It may leave it's scar - at least for some time - but there is forgiveness. This child has been forgiven! But right now, my heart still bears that very fresh wound that hurts all the more because it came from the mouth, hands, feet, and will of my precious sweet boy!