Toddler Tornado + Twelve = Trustworthy Teen

She looks sweet and innocent, doesn’t she? But this little angel packed quite a punch when it came to her toddler tornado capabilities. While not in the F6 “Inconceivable Tornado” category, she might have qualified for the F5 “Incredible Tornado” level. This is dear Amanda Hope, better known as Manda these days. Back then she usually went by Panda or Panda Bear. (But don’t try to call her that now – her father is the only one who retains that right!) When she was in full tornado mode we called her Pandemonium.

Speedy since the day of her arrival when she made her appearance ten minutes after we stepped inside the hospital, Manda has always been in a hurry. And when she was a toddler, though that wasn’t necessarily her aim, she left devastation in her wake. Scissors and paint were our little Panda Bear’s preferred medium, and she seemed to have a sixth sense for finding them. Once when I’d stepped outside to walk down to the mailbox, a three minute round trip, she somehow discovered a paint set in the kitchen junk drawer, opened it, stepped in multiple colors, and proceeded up the carpeted stairs, leaving little footprints all the way up! Many times she found scissors and cut everything from her beautiful curls to her dresses to all the floppy ears on Kristen’s beloved bunny quilt. (Eventually we managed to find all of them, and I sewed them back on. Kristen still has the quilt, but it has never been quite the same.)

I don’t think it’s any coincidence that our most active toddler tornado held the sixth place in the sibling line-up. With the first several children mama usually stays right with the little ones more, and the house can be toddler proofed. By the time you have older children, not only is your attention more divided, but the older ones have toys with intricate parts like Legos or jewelry making supplies. Perfect toddler fodder.

I’ve been remembering Manda’s days as our most powerful toddler tornado because at fourteen she’s so very different, and yet in some ways maybe not quite so different after all. Today Amanda still loves to be creative, but her efforts produce beautiful things instead of disasters. While she still likes paint – this summer she painted her room a lovely violet- she creates with everything from grapevines to plastic grocery sacks.

Today Amanda’s favorite medium consists in plants, especially wildflowers that she finds on our farm and transplants to her special area in the woods complete with a tree house, hammock, and paving made from creek rocks.

Instead of leaving chaos in her wake, these days Amanda leaves behind calm and order. Yes – as crazy as it seems, this child who wins the prize for most destructive tot of our nine, grew into a young woman who loves to bring beauty and harmony to her world! When she is bored, Amanda will tackle a closet, bathroom cabinet, or the food pantry just for fun. Never in my wildest imagination would I have dreamed this outcome a dozen years ago when I stood staring openmouthed at the little scissor cuts my sweetheart had made all over her curtains and many of her dresses when she was supposed to be napping.

If you have a tornado in your house, I want to give you some courage. Take heart! He or she will only be in this stage for a short time! Keep training these sweet little ones, precept upon precept, but also love each one for who he is, including who he is at this moment in his life. Before you know it, he will know just what should and what should not go in the toilet, and will not derive any great satisfaction from trying to flush your cell phone, but will be asking when he can have his own.

Isaiah 28: 10 For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little.


Kristen Wegener said…
Never mind every single one of my dresses also hanging up in our closet. And my poor quilt... Good thing she grew out of that into such a nice sister. :)
SarahD said…
Bless you, Anne! I definitely needed to read this tonight. Let's just say three children, a large package of lime in a forbidden chicken coop, a rake, and a hose. Wow! It was quite an afternoon at our house. But as I told those same three as I tucked them in tonight, the Lord's mercies are new every morning. :)
Anne said…
Oh, Sarah! Sounds like quite a mess! Some day this will just be a great family story! (When we lived in N. Carolina Andrew and Kara had a memorable incident in a storage shed involving several cans of spray paint and little preschool bodies.)
Lisa said…
Thank you Anne...I was all smiles the whole time I read this. I am in the midst of the sweet toddler years right now as you know....Luke is into spitting any type of liquid out of his mouth because he thinks he's funny...we don't...even though he is super cute. I had to laugh because when Nate, who is 6 now, was a toddler, his nickname was Tor-Nate-o ;)

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