Theo, my 2 year old, hits the 95% percentile in growth across the board. Within a month he outgrew the new clothes he was given at Christmas and easily fills out a size 4. His big brother, Max, spent the first half of his 5th year in those size 4 clothes, and just had a growth spurt allowing him to manage in size 5 if we roll up the pant legs for him.
In preschool, Max barely came to the shoulders of the other children, while Theo is a giant among his peers. Max is easily the most verbal of all of our children with the language skills of a 7 year old. Theo, on the other hand, understands language but is one of those toddlers that must rely on his family to translate the inarticulate words, if they can.
Max goes to a park or museum and all are amazed at his speech and tell their children to be kind to the little boy. Theo is given looks of confusion and disdain when he acts like a toddler. Even at home, we have tended to baby Max while pushing Theo to “grow up.” Even we have trouble remembering that this big brute is only 2 and a half.
My big baby is a baby. His brain hasn’t even completed its initial hardwire yet. He needs babying, cuddling, and help with most of his daily living including managing his temper tantrums. However, the world often judges Theo on what he should be based on the look of him: potty trained, dressing himself, eating with a fork, sitting still, and speaking in clear sentences.
Max and Theo have a lesson for us. How often do we stop to consider another’s heart and another’s needs may be different than what we assume they are? How often do we project our own point of view onto others? People have disabilities and histories and pain and it isn’t always obvious. Everyone needs respect, love, affection and understanding despite their age, size, gender, or job.
Not only are Theo and Max judged. My husband and I are judged as parents. Firstly, because we are middle-aged, people assume we are their grandparents sometimes. Secondly, because of their sizes, we are judged for being too patient with our big baby, and shouldn’t he be potty trained by now? We are judged for being too demanding on our little big boy.
When other parents make decisions for their children, they know the whole picture that you cannot see from the outside. So, for the most part, err on the side of giving the benefit of the doubt and assuming you don’t actually know better. You don’t know if that child has a disability, has been sick, suffers from anxiety, has experienced trauma, or, like Max and Theo, is a different age than you thought. You may have a child the same age, but you don’t have that child and God didn’t give him to you. You may have a nephew or a child on the autism spectrum, but that doesn’t mean your neighbor’s child on the spectrum is the same. You may have a child who obeys easily, but that doesn’t mean it is all because your parenting skills are better than your cousin’s. Some parents won’t experience a high-needs or willful child and some children are simply wired that way.
We are called to have judgement on right and wrong and to help one another in Christ to live a holy life. But, when being tempted to judge another, or especially another parent, think about the fact that you only see part of the picture and judge yourself first. Are you reacting in love and charity or does this make you feel superior? Let us try to see each other through Gods eyes.
Copyright 2017 Kate Daneluk