Okay, so this photo is totally staged, but it gets my point across pretty effectively.
In absolute terms, I guess Noah is just your average naughty kid, but in comparison with his older brother, Noah is like the devil.
Sure Judah was a colicky fussy baby, but ever since he turned 3.5 he magically morphed into an angel child. All the opposition and annoying whining truly was just a toddler phase that he grew out of. And even when he was in the midst of the terrible two's his meltdowns were pretty minor.
I would have never appreciated how easy-going and truly eager to please Judah is without the foil of his devil brother. Judah, in his heart of hearts, in the very core of who he is, truly just wants to be a good person and for everyone to be happy. He is goodness personified, people-pleasing to a fault, and the epitome of cooperation. Which is not to say he doesn't have his own moral flaws - he absolutely does - but none of them make me tense up in stress and pull my hair out in frustration by 9:30 AM.
Noah on the other hand...
Noah will turn 4 in January and it is abundantly clear that his annoying whining and opposition is not going away. This isn't a phase, it's just him.
He behaves so disobediently it even makes Judah suck in his breath with disbelief and awe. Almost as soon as I issue a command - Noah don't stand up on your chair - he has to do the exact opposite.
To gently correct him - Noah, don't color on your brother's homework - is to invite him to hurl verbal and emotional abuse upon you - You're so mean mommy! You make me sad! I'm going to be sad forever! You can't come in my room anymore! You can't come to my birthday party! You're the meanest mom ever! And the comment he thinks will hurt me the most - No more hugs and kisses for you!!!
Once I told him that we were out of the granola bars he wanted and he had these colorful remarks to say - I'm so mad at you mommy! I'm going to cut your head off! I'm going to get the big scissors, the one you keep in the special drawer that we're not supposed to play with - the big scissors - not the little ones that you let us use. And I'm going to hold them the safe way, by the handle, not by the sharp part, the safe way like daddy showed us. And cut your head off with the sharp part!
It was not unlike how a serial murderer might meticulously plot to skin his victims and sew a coat with them...
But on a brighter note, I'm so glad he listens when we talk to him about safely handling sharp objects!
But beyond his hair trigger anger, he also delights in dirty jokes. Judah never cared for 'potty-mouth' language but Noah lets it rip all the time and soon the two of them descend into the most annoying silliness. It's literally just them repeating to each other words like:
Poopy baby hahahahahahaha
literally, ad nauseum (my nauseum)
|Noah begged me to take a picture of this in RiteAid|
Noah even goes as far as drawing boobs and butts all over the place. They both look like two tangential circles, but you know it's a butt if it has a dribble of poop coming out of the middle. He once painted some giant ones on his art easel and told me to hang it up in the house. I politely declined.
So last night, as we were snuggling before bedtime, I decided to have a heart-to-heart talk with him about his rampant disobedience.
Noah, you make Mommy so sad when you disobey me. You need to work on obeying your parents.
Noah burst into tears and instantly accused us of not loving him and rejecting him and even said that we think his name is stupid (we've often said that it's a common name, unlike his brother's more rare name). All his insecurities gushed out in a flood of angry fear.
I tried to reassure him that we love him unconditionally and that we all have areas that need work. And again it amazed me how non-intuitive grace and unconditional acceptance really is.
This morning on our drive to preschool, Noah told me how he really does want to obey us more. He wanted it so much that he prayed about it on the spot:
Dear God, Please help me obey my parents. And when they tell me 'no' help me to accept it. In Jesus name, Amen.
If ever there was a prayer that was heard, I hope it was that.
Indeed, it is the very baby-step, tiny seed evidence of it.