Handle with Care.

Children come in all shapes, sizes, temperments, and demands on energy. If only training up a child were as simple as reading the special care instruction label affixed to their backside. Instead, everyday motherhood is one of discernment, prayer, trial and error, and great patience. Number 3 is the child in the family that requires an abundance of "special care"--at least currently. Our newly turned three-year old is loud, energetic, whiny, stubborn, clumsy, disobedient, and all-around challenging. And yet, he is equally hilarious, sweet, playful, communicative, brave, and full of life.

In addition to the arduous task of training this kind of child with consistent heart-oriented discipline, I've been searching for creative ways to encourage and positively reinforce. In a home full of tasks and privileges for older brothers, Number 3 has finally discovered his job. His special calling. His contribution. His place to fit in.

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Yup. He is a silverware-putter-awayer extraodinaire!

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He lines them up just right, and even takes them all out for a redo if they aren't stacked just so...

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"Is it time for my job, Mama?" he asks whenever I begin to unload the dishwasher. Enlisting the aid of my little helper not only keeps this energetic toddler occupied, but allows me to see strengths and qualities in him I might have never witnessed otherwise. The mode of operation for us busy moms can oftentimes result in "getting the job done faster ourselves," or feeling frustrated when messy little hands get in the way of our productivity. Between chasing after an infant that constantly gets into trouble, and a toddler who causes trouble, I find myself with a less than patient and godly perspective at times. Our patient Father has been dealing with me this summer to rediscover the joy, and not the burden, of being with my children throughout the day--all the while, training them to be helpful, productive, and even independent in quiet play. With his newly found excitement in giving up childish toys for grown-up tasks, Number 3 has taken to experimenting with other manly duties:

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I found the little man-cub the other day under the recliner playing mechanic.

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A mechanic in his skivvies, armed with a bolt and a hefty imagination.

Thank the Lord for the time to discover the special care instructions for each of our children.