I am sacrificing a lot to go to Africa this summer. Some members of my family are really having a difficult time accepting the idea of my son and I both leaving. Some people are really hurt that I would leave them to go to Africa, others are just sad and are going to miss us terribly. I understand their feelings completely, and I do feel sad that we are leaving. At the same time, I know this is where God wants us, and I am at peace with our plan to go to Africa this summer.
As I go throughout the day and live my life, I sometimes have "moments" with my son where I wonder, "Can I do this alone with a three year old child?" My son is a wonderful little boy, well behaved and very mature. His language skills are amazing, and he acts older and smarter than other children his age. However, he does not act 21, and traveling with any child can be rather difficult. Being that he only turned three on Sunday, he still has tendencies towards the "Terrible Twos", which means once in a while he gets moody, pout, and may even through a bit of a tantrum. Now, I know these emotional displays are very normal, and I can see that he gets this way because he does not have the vocabulary to express what he wants or needs. However, I also know that when he tantrums, I sometimes feel like I want to lay on the ground beside him and kick and scream right along with him!
From reading books on parenting, and from my own experience (my Mom and I used to run a daycare and preschool at our home, I have taught English in China, I volunteered with children at a child abuse prevention center...the list goes on!) I know there are certain things that can be done to help alleviate the frustrations in a child that lead to tantrums or whining. I have taught my son sign language to use to express himself, as well as Chinese, so he can have the tools to communicate his wants and needs. Another thing I have done in the past that helps a LOT, but I have not done lately because of my erratic work and school schedule, is to have a daily schedule for your child. I know, I really, really KNOW that having my child on a schedule was the best thing I could have done for his whining and pouting. When he was on a good schedule, he knew what to expect each day, he could predict his day. This gave him a sense of control as well as the assurance that his needs would be met each day.
So, I KNOW my son and I must go to Africa this summer. I also know that we must NOT be
"crazy" while we are there! So, I have a few things that must be accomplished before we leave for Africa:
1.) Taiger must be on a schedule (even if it changes when we get there, at least he will be used to a schedule and will trust the new one we live by in Africa).
2.) Taiger must have his tantrums and pouting under control. (Although I said "Taiger must...", because I know it is something only he can control in the end, I realize that it will be my responsibility to provide him with the tools to accomplish this goal. Although it is a goal for Taiger in writing, it is a goal for ME in practice!)
3.) The binkie needs to only be used at bedtime and nap time. Although him having a binkie doesn't bother me a whit, having him lose it so often during the day, having to go look for it, him worrying where it is, him worrying that it has a hole in it...this is all more trouble than it is worth! Here in America, I can just run to the store and grab a new one if the old one is lost or has a hole in it. In Africa, I won't be able to do that, so he must leave it home by his bed while we are out so it is still nice and is not lost by the time it is bedtime, which is when he REALLY needs it!
4.) I must be financially able to go. This one is rather self explanatory.