It was loud, it was messy, and it certainly couldn't be labeled as pretty. On Friday eve, our middle school babe walked in from a friend's house wearing eyeshadow and black nail polish. Totally ready for a night on the town. We weren't sure which part of town, but that was beside the point. When corrected because there was no way on God's green earth she was going to pull this one off there were loud sighs, emphatic telling of "NO", a tossing of a bottle of hand sanitizer, the word hate(forbidden in our nest), the idea introduced that we were not in any way, shape or form cool, a liturgy on why our rules shouldn't apply, etc, etc. This went on with increasing pitch for two hours.
I'll take a breath to state two sure things:
(1) Our neighbors either think we're crazy or have gone through this type of thing themselves, as our firecracker was probably audible far down the street.
(2) Little Bit resembled Mary Poppins more and more with each passing moment of the next 72 hours.
By 11:39pm Friday the 2nd, the doors to Legs room had been removed from the hinges. With exclamations of how unfair we were and how she needed her privacy, we gently firmly reminded her that this was our home and the consequence for slamming doors on us was their removal. As I kissed her steaming head for the third time as I put her back in bed, I asked God to give peace to all of us. I may have also requested begged of Him that the neighbors might not feel the inclination to call the authorities. Yes, she was THAT loud...small and mighty, our Legs.
Not much improvement was seen on Saturday, meaning that most of her room was moved into our closet. My friend, Sara, laughed at this and told me of a friend of hers who had emptied her son's room except for his mattress, a blanket and pillow. I smirked, remembering our spitfire at 5...when we'd done the same thing. I was praying we'd not get to that point, as I don't have the same physical strength I did half a decade ago. I was willing to journey back there again, for one reason and one reason only...
This is about her heart, not her happiness
Yep, we're some of those parents. The ones that want their kids to turn out loving God and each other and respecting themselves even when it is not easy or popular. The parents who want their kids in the world but not of it. The parents who enforce curfew. The parents who don't dress the six year old like a sixteen year old and allow the sixth grader to dress any way she desires. Here in the nest, cheek is not exposed from either side, and we don't tolerate cheeky. Our chicks are being raised to be well mannered, obedient, cultured, intelligent, Christ following young ladies. The professor and I trust that if the little hearts in this home are right, happiness will follow. We work on teaching that joy and happiness aren't the same thing, and above everything else we are here to shepard and lead and shape their hearts...and if their hearts are right their joy that only comes from the Lord will be evident.
This weekend, no one in the nest was happy. There was much yelling (not from anyone over four and half feet tall), door slamming, crying, and general unease. Little bit cried because it was stressful. The professor pantomimed behind closed doors. I needed a nap well before 4pm on Sunday. All weekend, the words were the same, stated calmly and simply,
"It's not about your happiness, it's about your heart. When your heart is right, your happiness follows."
As we came home from church on the 4th, we asked our firecracker if there was a display in our near future. We were testing her heart, attempting to determine if she felt real sorrow over what had occurred or if she was simply trying to get out of the mess in which she'd placed herself. We were asking "Is your heart right?" About 2:00pm, the answer became yes. It was yes in a heartfelt apology, a statement about what needed to change, and true sorrow about the events that had unfolded. It was yes in her desire to go up and dance and let out some pent-up steam. Yes in the quiet moments of sitting and reading with her younger sister, and yes in the organized dresser drawers that had been arranged in the midst of her thinking. Finally our strong willed child was understanding that our rules were there to keep her safe, keep her protected, help her remain a child for just a bit longer. The eldest was grasping that we were interested in the health of her heart rather than in simply making her happy.
We watched fireworks as a family later that night in their dazzling display of color, beauty, form and sparkle. As each exploded overhead, I gazed at our newly minted middle school babe and was thankful. Thankful that we'd made it through the weekend, thankful that she'd been entrusted to us, and thankful for all of the brilliance she brings to our lives...thankful that Independence Day occurs only once a year.