Raising Washington, Two Years Old

“Washington General Heilman”

aka Osh

Children are AWESOME!

This last week I have been in serious prayer over what I should talk about in regards to parenting and motherhood. I really felt led that this week should be about life as a parent and a mother, I just wasn’t sure how God desired for me to approach it. So, I stopped writing until I received His Word (which really is all one can do) and waited. Finally, last night the revelation occurred to me that I have five kids, so how about a five day series on how I raise each of them as individuals? Ah ha! Awesome, this I KNOW I can do!

Firstly, I would like to talk about our little Osh Kosh, or “Koshie” as only momma calls him. I will illustrate through each day five things I have learned from parenting each of our five different children.

“Washington General as a name, came to me in my sleep.”

Yes, Washington is a rather unique first name and when you pair it with “General” your name now probably sounds more like a Soap Opera title than that of a name an individual should be called. I was in bed one night, and I heard a voice from God informing me that his name should be “Washington General”, which was quite a name to have to convince my family of.

I am a strong believer in meanings behind names, (consider Abraham, Jacob and Israel) for as long and as far back in History that we know men and women have been given names with “meanings”, and have lived up to those name meanings. Jesus literally means Savior. So with each of my children (except Osh, whose name came to me), I have looked for characteristics that I desired my infants to grow into (but really I believe that God was guiding me to the appropriate names in which HE wanted them to be called). Washington General means, “Leader of the towns people” and Heilman means “Town doctor”. So when you put them together, Washington General Heilman means, “Leader and healer (restorer) of the towns people”. So far Washington, has been a great comforter, and has always filled with peace- he is living up greatly to his name.

1. “Never underestimate children”

We have a routine in this house, and it is that typically around 2 am one of our two toddlers end up coming in and crawling into bed with mom and dad. Last Sunday, Osh had crawled into bed with us and slept until the morning. We as a family have been attending an early church service online (that starts live at 7am) and I, being tired from staying up late the night before reached over to my nightstand which had the laptop on it. Osh was awake by now, and he was still in bed cooing and snuggling. The morning light had not yet come.

I put my laptop on my stomach in bed, and opened up all the necessary links to church. Jeff, Osh and I were all very close laying down together and began to listen to the service. As I was nodding off (having trouble keeping my eyes open to watch AND listen) I began to feel Osh who is two years old, start stroking my arm. He was in bed, watching service and petting my arm over and over again. He probably did this for about 5-10 minutes. Never underestimate your children. No matter what age, they listen and can be sensitive and understanding- just like we can.

2. “Children are unique individuals”

Andrew, or fourth son is so different than his younger brother it is like night and day! Where Osh is sweet and sensitive, Andrew is tough and definitive. Where Osh wants to be held and kissed, Andrew wants to run and explore. Children are completely unique individuals!

Treating children as if they are the same, is not beneficial to them. This is my number one reason as to not having our children in our current school system. As I understand it in countries like Japan and mostly all over Europe, the school systems are set up like trade schools. At an early age it is decided based on your particular strengths the areas of study that you should be directed to. An early love of science? You will be reared toward the sciences. Any early love for art? You will be reared towards artisanship. Baking? Sewing? Math? You get the picture.

Here in America however, children are all put into large groups in which they are all instructed in the same generalized direction. They are ridiculed even when they fail in a subject that is not their strength. So a child who could be a gifted pianist ends up having to spend all of their time learning algebra, valuable time spent away from the piano. This is where our school system, in my opinion, has failed us. Washington General is not called to be anything but what God has designed him to be, and as he gets older this will be revealed to us, his parents, who are watching him closely.

3. “Children do not need to over-eat”

Washington is a great eater. He always has been. He eats pretty much any type of food I put in front of him . I learned after my first son, to quit feeding babies “baby food”, and instead make our dinner food their food by pureeing it, or making it smaller. As a result, Osh eats all kinds of good food. I have learned as a parent however, that children do not need to “clean their plates” or eat every scrap. This type of forcing kids to finish eating is the leading cause of guilty eating that leads to overeating as adults. Kids have no problem eating a bite and saying, “ok I’m done”. This should be encouraged, children do not need to over-eat. It is in my experience that we teach children to become overeaters by force. Even if mommy has a love for chocolate, when a kid has had enough cake they will stop eating… unless by some bizarre occurrence mom makes him feel guilty for NOT eating every crumb. Osh is real good at feeding the dog whatever it is that he doesn’t want to eat!

4. “Children CAN be trusted.”

Sometimes this revelation never comes to parents, simply because they never try it! They don’t ever create in life situations in which children can be trusted. They don’t put cookies out on the table, say “no eating” and then walk away. Instead, they just leave the cookies in the cupboard and avoid disciplinary actions all together, expecting that their child will fail- no matter what. I have learned to totally trust my children (and vice versa) by not safe guarding everything, but instead teaching them that they can be trusted.

I always wondered what life was like before Rubbermaid came on the scene and everything turned plastic. I can immediately point out new parents as they walk through safety isles and are buying bumpers and pads and outlet covers. Granted safety IS a concern for my family, but it is not THE concern for our family.

Our children need to be taught discipline, and that “no means no”, primarily so that they can be trusted to go to other peoples houses and show their neighbor the respect that they deserve. You should not ever be put in the position that you can not take your child to someone else’s house because it is not safety proofed (providing your child is healthy). We can begin disciplining our children by creating opportunities to gain mutual trust and communication.

5. “Children are all ears.”

I think this one is pretty self explanatory, children ARE all ears. Everything you say, they hear and receive. Everything you say WILL be repeated- if not out loud, it will be repeated in their psyche. Andrew took forever to learn how to talk, Osh is talking already. What does he say? Only whatever he has heard!

Call your child names, or belittle them and they will call others names and belittle themselves. For some parents this is extremely hard not to do, because this is what their parents did to them. Before they know it however, little Johnny is like a parrot.

Just last month we were at dinner and a little boy Oshies age was shouting out a “bad” word. He thought it was funny and was doing it over and over again. Evidently his mother (who apologized for the son), said that he had just been hearing that word in the car on the way over to the restaurant.

All I could do was smile, even though I was saddened, because what this mother might have seen as “cute”, to me was a prophetic display of the hell that child is going to have to put up with on this earth in his future. What a sad, sad state when a child’s future is already etched out for them before their second birthday… just from the words their parents speak!

I am really looking forward to keeping up this week of parenting tips, and quips. In the last fifteen years I have learned a ton of different things from trial-by-error, and from reading many books. I hope that you will be able to learn something new, and be encouraged that parenting is the best thing in this world and children are AWESOME!

God bless you my friends!

Love Always,

Jessica

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