Let me explain the title, then I’ll get on with the story.
I am currently involved in a Bible study/book discussion group with some friends from church and right now we are reading and discussing Church of the Small Things by Melanie Shankle. We are not only reading the book on our own, but we get together each month to watch a DVD lesson and discuss topics from the corresponding study guide. During the first week she talked about how all the little things that we do throughout our every day lives matters – even if it’s just doing laundry or packing lunches. She also talked about how these little things – our actions, our attitudes, how we treat others – have an impact on our children and how eventually we will “bear fruit.” Our children don’t learn to have good manners after telling them once to say please or thank you. It takes telling them [probably] hundreds of times to do something before they do it on their own and understand why this is the polite thing to do.
She used the analogy of an orange tree. An orange tree does not bear fruit over night. It sprouts leaves, then beautiful flower blossoms, then eventually it will produce oranges. An orange tree does not sit there and worry about producing fruit day after day. It stays grounded in its roots, grows like it’s supposed to, and eventually the oranges will come.
So on to my “orange tree kind of day.” It was one of those days where Raley was doing one thing after another to push my buttons. She was doing things that she knows she’s not supposed to do. Those things that I have told her time and time and again to stop doing that! That is an absolute no-no! When she does these things that I feel that she should know better than to do, it makes me fume inside. Especially when Audrey, who wants to do everything that Big Sister does, tries to follow in her footsteps and ends up doing it too.
On this day, we had gone to the hair salon to get her hair cut then I decided to pop into the little boutique next door. (We get our hair done in Athens, so I’m not out that way much, which is why I wanted to run into the store since I was right there.) I told them several times to stay right with me and not to run around and touch things. Every. Single. Time we go into a store, I tell Raley not to touch things, but she just can’t help herself. She can’t just look, she HAS TO touch! (“Look with your eyes, not your hands” is something I say way too often.)
Well, of course they wouldn’t stay with me. When I’d try to pick Audrey up to carry her around, she would throw herself back and scream. The owner of the boutique was very sweet and was trying to distract them so that I could look around. Well, Audrey ended up sending an entire rack of necklaces crashing to the ground, breaking one of them. The lady was nice enough to not charge me for it, but I basically went running out of that store. I wanted to bury my head in the sand in embarrassment because what kind of mother am I if my kids don’t listen when I tell them to stop doing something and then go and destroy things in stores?
I gave them a good lecture in the car about listening and respect and all that (while actually keeping my voice down) then as soon as we got home I went upstairs, by myself, and let out a pretty good scream into my pillow. If you’ve ever done this before, you know that for some reason letting out a really good scream like that is oddly comforting and deescalating. If you scream in your pillow you’re still getting all that frustration out and not scaring your kids. I took a few deep breaths and then went back downstairs to make lunches and move on with our day.
I kept telling myself to be an orange tree. Be an orange tree. Don’t blow up at them. Be an orange tree.
I try and keep the orange tree in mind as I go throughout each day. Kids don’t learn things overnight. I may have told them the same thing a hundred times and yes, it’s frustrating when they just don’t seem to get it (and even more frustrating when they blatantly disobey), but letting that frustration get the best of me is not going to help the situation. It will only make them afraid of me.
I do think that they need to be disciplined in a way that resonates with them and in a way that allows the parent to explain to them what they did and why it was wrong. But I also think that there are times when we should show them grace. Either way, we should always communicate in a calm, but stern voice and be sure that they know we love them, no matter what.
Like an orange tree, if we stay grounded in our roots, remembering that we are training children to do what is right and that it takes time, then we will eventually see fruit. They will eventually stop jumping on the couch. They will eventually learn to sit still in their seat at the dinner table and eat their food in a timely manner. They will eventually learn to keep their voice down in church. They will eventually learn that whining or crying for something doesn’t get them the things that they want. They will eventually understand to be grateful for what they are given and to not always ask for more. They will eventually stay in bed at bedtime (yall know what a long struggle that was for us!)
So when you’re having a bad day, when you feel like nothing you say is heard or nothing you do is appreciated, remember to be like an orange tree. Be faithful in what you are doing and what you know is right and some day you WILL see fruit.
I’d love to hear from you!
Are there certain things that you constantly have to tell your children? Do you have any calming techniques for keeping your cool? This can be applied in other areas of your life as well. Is there an area of your life where you feel like you’re burning rubber and getting no where? An area where you could benefit from staying grounded and faithful like an orange tree?