Tuesday, September 3, 2013

No, Baker!

I have typed, then backspaced, then typed again.

My favorite group of inspirational ladies,
The Build 'Em Up Bloggers,
are sharing posts on "Creative Correction" today -
what you're doing when time out isn't working.
I really struggled with whether this was a topic on which I was comfortable writing for all the world to see.
And safe to say, the answer is a big fat NO!

There are several reasons why:
1. I am a brand spanking (no pun intended) new mom. What do I know?
2. Baker is only 15 months old. Is it too early to begin?
3. Baker is a boy, and I am very much a girlie girl. What do I know about disciplining boys?
3. Baker has Down Syndrome. Do the same rules apply to children with special needs, and if so, am I knowledgeable enough to adapt them to meet his needs?
But, I continued typing,
trusting that the Lord is leading me in raising Baker.
And, for some reason, I typed long enough to push that highlighter orange button at the top of the screen and clicked "publish" for my words, my actions, my faults, my rights and wrongs of parenting to be made known.

Since Baker turned one, some days, all I feel like I say is
"No, Baker!"
"Mommy said no."
"Baker Bell, no sir."
"Baker, don't throw your food on the floor."
"Baker, that dog food is not for you."
"Baker, don't bite mommy. That hurts."
"No climbing on the table."

See this kid.

He's mine.
That's my boy.
Several years ago, I was a part of a Bible Study on using Scripture in correcting childrens' actions.
The verses the study was centered upon, don't discriminate on age, gender, or intellectual ability.
"Love the Lord your God with all your heart
and with all your soul and with all your strength.
These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts.
Impress them on your children.
Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road,
when you lie down and when you get up.
Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads.
Write them on the door frames of your houses and on your gates."
Deuteronomy 6:5-8
(emphasis added)
And with that, all of those excuses were nullified.
My role, my goal, my life as a wife and a mother, is to partner with my husband in upholding the ten commandments in our home,
and guide Baker in living a life that honors God.
For those of you who have read our story, and followed along the path of Baker's life, I know what you're thinking.
For I think the same thing numerous times each day.
When I peek over the edge of his crib,
when he signs "please" and "hug" and dive bombs into my arms,
when he pats my back in sync with my love pats on his,
when he drifts off to sleep and gives  me one final kiss before closing his eyes.
But yes, even my cute little Baker Boy,
this sweet angel who loves so easily,
and laughs so big,
needs correcting.
Just like me, he was born into a world of sin.
He was born a sinner.
That was really difficult for me to type.
In fact, I tried to sugarcoat it.
But, adding ice cream and chocolate syrup doesn't change that truth.
And as much as I have ever been, I am thankful for God's grace that saved me.
And I am thankful for God's grace that covers Baker.
Oh, how I pray that I will raise a man who, above all else, loves the Lord.
 And commits his life to Him.
I pray that Baker is a light for Jesus, that he shines brightly for his Savior, that he trusts in Him, that he is saved, baptized, and spends eternity in Heaven.
That is my job.
Not when he turns a certain age.
Or reaches a certain IQ.
Regardless of his diagnosis, his IEP, the Lord has called me to raise Baker in His image.
 How do I do that?
One. Consider the child.

I think, just like anything else, it is necessary to consider the child.
For me, my mom only had to look at me with that carefully perfected mama look, and I changed my tune. My brother, David, required a slightly different approach.
For Baker, at only fifteen months old, I don't give him a lengthy saga when I correct him. I say "no," I sign "no." My words and body language convey "no," and sometimes, "Baker Bell, with all the love in my heart, I am your mama and if you make me laugh, so help me, I said NO!"
While Baker has Down Syndrome, which I know inhibits his mental capacity, I also know he knows right from wrong. He communicates this each day. When he is doing something I have warned him against, he looks at me with those almond eyes, and says "eeehhh." Like, "Mom, I know you said 'no' last time, but are you going to let me get away with it this time?" He also knows remorse. When he does something he knows he shouldn't, he pouts his bottom lip out and gives me a big love, communicating, "I'm sorry, Mommy." There are things that I might have to teach him more slowly, but I will not use his disability as an excuse for misbehavior. That being said...
I also have to consider the day and the time of the day. Is Baker acting out because he is teething, because he is tired, or because he is testing me? Does he need correcting, or does he just need grace, and some extra love?
Two. Talk about it with your spouse.
I never wanted to be the mama that says, "You just wait until your daddy gets home!"
So, Brian and I have talked about this, in great detail. We communicated our non-negotiables, our goals in raising Baker (and future children), our thoughts on spankings, time out, restriction, etc.
We decided it was important for us to be equal disciplinarians who provide instantaneous, and consistent feedback. We decided it was important for us to have similar boundaries and for us to be consistent in how we correct our child's behavior.
Brian and I have talked about spanking, prayed about spanking, and are all for spanking. However, for us, now is not the time - not in any shape or form. And the older Baker gets, the more I push back the time. I am extremely prayerful about this right now, that God would equip me and guide me in choosing the right methods in correcting Baker's actions - that take into consideration his special needs.
"He who spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is careful to discipline him." Proverbs 13:24
(See David, you were really, really , really loved!)
Three. Involve Jesus.
This shouldn't have been last, in fact, it needs to be at the forefront.
Pray about it. If there was ever something that brought me to my knees, it's a whiny, food throwing, inconsolable toddler. I have prayed diligently about correcting Baker's behavior. And I have prayed off the cuff about correcting Baker's behavior. You know the prayer, "So help me God, if he wants to live to see sixteen months..."
Use the scriptures. As Baker gets older, I want him to know why it is important for him to do, or not do something. And not just because "Mommy said so." Yes, that is important, but more importantly, is that Jesus said so. I want Baker to grow up in reverence for our Lord, wanting his actions to please Him, not me. I will be proud regardless. I want Baker to respect me, and not dig into the dog's food bowl, and do things the first time I ask, because God says, "Honor thy Father and thy Mother."
I am learning.
Every step of the way.
A lot of days are trial and error.
There are tears, there are laughs.
There are prayers and there are praises.
Every day, I learn something new.
Every day, I grow a little more confident.
Every day, that Lord guides me and equips me to be a mother who raises a child who loves Him.
"Train up a child in the way he should go,
and when he is old, he will not depart from it."
Proverbs 22:6


  1. Great thoughts!! My little guy is almost 2 and sometimes I feel like all I do is say No all the time. We are constantly praying over him the fruits of the spirit. And we pray we will be models for his behavior. He is watching us.

  2. I love this! So glad you shared it, I needed it!

  3. Just beautiful! Very well said and oh so true.

  4. i am so so glad you stepped out and shared on this. i know it took courage. i was scared to go here too. God is absolutely going to guide your heart through this process. keep trusting him and lean on him. we can ask for wisdom and he will give it! you are awesome!

  5. I like your use of the Shema Yisrael prayer (Deuteronomy 6:5-8)... I put my boys to bed with it every night.