Sunday, October 31, 2010

more three-year-old wisdom

I've been thinking lately about the profound things that my son says and does, and the ways we as parents get to guide him, but also learn. It's pretty fun. I don't always think of these things as profound at the time. I need to reflect more so I don't miss anything!

This one wasn't so profound, but it was funny. Today E and I were playing with his barn and animals, and he said something about how the cow was eating meat. I said, "The cow IS meat!" He gave me a blank look. (Since I'm a vegetarian he's only recently been introduced to the world of meat.) I said, "That's what they make hamburgers out of." He then waxed eloquent for a minute about how it's sad that they kill cows who don't want to be made into hamburgers, and isn't it sad, Mama? I said, "Well, I guess so...I mean, I don't eat meat because I don't like to kill animals, and other reasons..." He said, "Well, God wants us to trust him that it's OK to eat meat" (he's only 3 and already calls God "him," although he didn't learn it from his daddy or me!), "so you should trust God."

The more profound thing is thinking about what it means to pray. My F/friend Aj wrote a post here about her kids praying, and it got me thinking about E and prayer. Over a year ago I posted on our family blog about when he first wanted to pray out loud. Since then he hasn't really shown much interest in prayer.

Usually at meals he doesn't want to hold our hands to pray, and he doesn't really want to participate. Yesterday at lunch he held hands with us, but then in the middle of the prayer he leaned down and started eating hands-free, licking peanuts off his plate.

One time when he was at my grandparents' place having lunch, my cousin happened to be there. Later my cousin told me, "E wouldn't pray with us, and he said, 'Mama doesn't make me pray!' I told him I seriously doubted that!" I said, "Well, I don't make him pray--I mean, I want him to be respectful when others are praying, but he doesn't have to pray." "Are you serious?" my cousin asked. "Yeah, well, if I force him to pray, it's not really praying, is it?"

One time he told me he doesn't want to pray until he's bigger and knows what to say. I try to reassure him that he doesn't have to have the right words, and he doesn't have to worry about what to say. He doesn't even have to say anything, he can pray in his head, or just think about God.

But E really wants us to pray with him at bedtime. Maybe it's similar to Aj's kids, who just want to prolong the time before they have to go to sleep--and sometimes that's definitely it, but who can resist a kid who's asking to pray with you? But even though he doesn't want to pray out loud, it's important to him. He asks every night for us to pray with him. The other night he wanted me to pray, and I asked if he'd pray for me, because we were both sick with colds. I told him he didn't have to pray out loud. So I prayed for him, and then asked if he'd pray for me. "I already did, Mama, while you were praying."


Anonymous said...

Two tough questions. I grew up on a farm and we could have restricted our eating to non-meat, but we never thought about it. If we had, we probably would have asked whether it was all right to kill the flies that kept buzzing around. I am more thoughtful now, but I still draw a line between humans and animals. However, I have several grandchildren and other friends who are vegetarians, and I empathize with them.

I like your conversation regarding prayer. "I already did, Mama, while you were praying." Great!

Gr. Ralph

Darci said...

Hey Cherice,
I had the same conversation with our oldest about that age (about cows and pigs). She LOVES animals I realized I should not have mentioned that we eat them just about the time that her lil face went white and she yelled out, "WHAT!!!" However, having told her the truth about that she has been able to trust us on tougher questions. She can ask some pretty profound things about God. We go back and forth on the Trinity and Jesus:) What can I say, its a difficult thing to wrap our finite minds around... how to explain it to a child lol.

I love how E was praying for you even though he didn't let on at first. That shows that he is taking to heart what you have taught him about speaking to God if even in silence. How wonderful!
We all have those moments of being proud of our kids and their spiritual growth as parents and this was certainly one for you I'd imagine:)

Leah said...

I love that you don't force E to pray, but have let him learn about it slowly and in his own time. Thanks for sharing this part of your parenting journey. That is the part of parenting that I feel so uncertain about. Obviously W is still pretty little, but I think about the future a lot.