I've been thinking about how you cannot deal with your children simply as they are, you also have to think of them as the adults you hope they'll be.
My husband and I often encourage each other, when we're dealing with bratty toddler and preschooler behavior, that it is worth it to persevere, because we'd rather deal with it now than when they're thirteen. Better to nip things in the bud when the worst they can do is throw a tantrum, rather than let undesirable character qualities continue until they're of an age to beat someone up, knock someone up, crash a car, commit a felony. You know?
(I realize our children have free will and could do all of these things regardless of how we parent. But I think, hope and pray we can influence the odds.)
Anyway, it's the hope of the person we want each child to become that makes us frown instead of laugh when our child does something naughty-yet-hilarious (we laugh later, behind closed doors). If we didn't think of how bad that behavior would look in a thirty year old, we'd coo, "oh, she's just a kid" right along with those annoying people who scold you for scolding your child for doing something she shouldn't ("oh, it's okay, she's just having fun!") I can't look at my three year old and see just my three year old. I see that my three year old will be four soon, and then five . . . and then fifteen, and these behaviors just won't do later in life.
This is all true. Yet I also have to school myself to see my children as the kids they are. Especially my oldest. The pressure of younger children, and her own articulate self, often influence me to see her as a ten year old, rather than a not-yet-four year old. But then I tell myself, "what if she were my only child? what if there was no comparison of two year old brother and infant twins?" and then I see her as the still very little girl she is, and I relax, and enjoy her and am a better mom to her.
It's funny how it takes both parts. I'd be a bad mom if I just treated my three year old as a three year old, if I didn't realize that I have to help her grow up. But I'd also be a bad mom if I didn't remember that she really is just three (for a few more weeks!) and that she still needs to be talked to tenderly, listened to intently and even, occasionally (like last night) be cuddled and sung to sleep. (It was so sweet to hold her, all long limbs now, and sing to her the hymn that got her to sleep when she was still too little to walk.)
Parenting is such a balancing act. Lord, help me keep my feet steady under me, and my eyes fixed straight ahead, on you.