My son instantly loved his new kindergarten class and teachers. He made several new friends and couldn’t wait to go school each day. For the first time, he was returning home from school happy. He was interested in what he was learning and talked about friends he had played with during the day. Unfortunately, my son also brought home, new sayings and a very challenging attitude.
During the second month of school, my son began to act out. It started one day, just after he woke up. My five-year-old was talking back to me! I was quite surprised since this behavior was contrary to his normal respectful attitude. Rather than hug me good morning as usual, with his baby blanket in arm, he walked straight past me and sat on the couch. His ugly attitude continued as I walked him to his kindergarten class. And, as soon as he returned home, he appeared rejuvenated with an even worse tongue. He repeatedly said, “You can’t make me,” to simple requests like, “Please put your lunchbox on the counter.” In one day, I had sent my son to more disciplinary timeouts than in an entire year. I retreated to think, “Where is my son, and who is this little person?”
The next day, he started throwing his toys and had a tantrum when I instructed him to get ready for school and eat his breakfast. His anger was escalating. By now, so was my frustration. Normally he was obedient. I couldn’t believe we were having a power struggle.
On the third day, around bedtime, my son asked if he could sleep with his shirt off. I told him he had to wear his shirt to bed because the apartment was cold at night and I didn’t want him to get sick. Unexpectedly, he said, “I want a new mommy!” His words shattered my heart. I was stunned and walked out of his room without finishing our normal bedtime prayer and routine. I cried, feeling lost.
By the fourth day, I struggled to keep my adult head together. My son continued talking back and saying hurtful things, such as, “I want to go live with my daddy.” I told him I didn’t like the way he was treating me. He was acting downright mean. I asked about his school day and how the other kids behaved in class. “Are you copying someone in class who acts mean? Are you being picked on? Did someone hurt you?” He just shook his head, “No” to each question. He even seemed confused by his behavior.
I began to sing, “Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand, against the devil’s schemes… be strong in the Lord.” My son sang the first part with me as he loves and knows the song well. During the song, I took a washable marker from the kitchen table to draw muscles on his arms and a shield on his chest with the word “GOD” across the shield. In my best Arnold Schwarzenegger voice, I mimicked, “Oh you have big muscles for God.” He laughed his normal laugh.
But then my son looked down at his chest, took the darkest colored marker from the table, and drew a big “X” across the word God. I sent him to bed, feeling very discouraged.
After he fell asleep that night, I went into his room to pick up his clothes. The pictures of our family on his dresser were lying face down. I left his room feeling emotionally and physically exhausted. What was going on?
My first thought was to consider the impact of his father’s absence. But, then, we hadn’t lived with my husband in over a year and a half. Was he was feeling lost in public school? Finally, I excused his behavior as a result of being tired and adjusting to a new schedule. I reinstated naptime. However, when he woke up from naps just as cranky and disrespectful, I ran out of excuses.
Feeling discouraged, I confided in a friend for help. This particular friend holds a special place in my heart. She was the one I called upon my release from jail. Even though it was late at night and she had never driven without her husband at such a late hour, she insisted on being there to comfort me. I will never forget the gift of her sitting by my side and holding my hand in the lobby of the jail. She remained by my side as I waited for my parents to arrive. That night, we became more than work associates. Later, she would teach me about Scripture and encourage my walk with Christ. I came to rely on her for spiritual guidance as well as friendship in my life.
So naturally, I called this friend to discuss my youngest son. She listened quietly as she had always done. Then she spoke about spiritual battles. She asked if I thought my son was battling against me because I was writing this book to worship the Lord. In her usual sweet demeanor, she offered to pray for my son. She called on the Lord and asked Him to visit my son in his dreams. I cried as she spoke. Her prayer was comforting and instantly eased my anxiety. She also prayed for God’s protection for me.
When she finished praying, my friend suggested that pray for my son while he slept. After we ended the call, I took my bible to my son’s room. He was fast asleep. I made a cross on his forehead and chest and then prayed a very simple prayer, “God, please help me to help my son.”
The next day, my son woke up and he was silent. Although he was not acting his usual jovial self, he was no longer acting disrespectful either. As he dressed, I erased all of the names on my prayer board and put my son’s name across the board in large letters. I told him what I did. He lit up! He hugged me very tightly around the neck as he questioned, “What about the others?” I replied, “You need my prayers right now.”
My son put his jacket on for school. He then looked at the prayer board. He erased his name and wrote it again in even larger letters. Then he threw the hood of the jacket off his head, and said, “I am so mad right now.” I thought, here we go again!
I calmly asked, “What’s wrong?” He said, “I am so mad at the devil for using me to say mean things to my mommy.” My five-year-old son: so insightful. My eyes welled with tears. I put my hands down, palm side up. He quickly slapped me “five.” In that moment, we were back to normal.
We drove to school, and there he asked the other children if they believed in God. One child said he believed in dinosaurs. My son told him about God as they rolled their hula hoops around the blacktop. In the car, I silently thanked God for protecting my family from the devil’s schemes.