bubblesMy husband and I played a kind of game this week trying to determine the essence of each of our children– that quality that defines them, is indistinguishable from them, and no matter what they do, they will always be it.

We decided my oldest son is “gentle,” my daughter is “sweet,” and my youngest son is “effervescent”.

It’s helpful to distill them down to their very essence, because once we recognize it, we can use it as a filter for assessing their behavior and reactions.

Deciding that my youngest son is “effervescent” has had the biggest impact. We have been so frustrated lately that he has no “off” switch and is always either moving or talking, usually annoying the heck out of his siblings and driving us to the brink of insanity. But now we see him as “bubbles”, which of course have no “off” switch, nor can be expected to.

Now instead of being frustrated that he doesn’t shut off, I see him as a glass of soda I’ve just poured that wants to spill over. I just need to contain the soda so it stays in the glass. There’s nothing I can do to make it stop fizzing or bubbling so I don’t even try.

The frustration has disappeared (not that I’m not still annoyed sometimes) but I understand him so much better that it makes it easier to accept him for who he is and to enjoy him. After all, bubbles are celebratory and he’s a lot of fun to be around.

Seeing my oldest son as “gentle” helps me to be realize that a little goes a long way with him and that I don’t need to be so intense to get my point across. Like a shy deer, he responds better to coaxing than chasing.

I always knew my daughter was “sweet,” but realizing that it’s what she’s made of, that it flows in her veins no matter what, has made me honor it more somehow. She can still be a thirteen-year-old girl with no sweetness in the moment whatsoever, but fundamentally, I’ve recognized that’s what she is and what she always goes back to.

It seems so obvious now that we’ve identified each child’s quality. Recognizing their essence seems to be a spiritual thing, where we acknowledge and honor the spirits that inhabit their bodies. It takes the temporal day-to-day dynamic of parents raising children and elevates it to a plane where we the parents and they the children are spiritual equals, and we parents are merely stewarding them for Heavenly Father.

It’s a pretty neat thing to feel.

Photo credit: //www.sxc.hu/photo/1383054