It could be worse, I guess. I could be one of those parents who merely take my kids to Church hoping that somehow the Word of the Lord will infiltrate their consciousnesses as they sleep awkwardly on the pew next to me. I could even be that mother who refuses to fuss and argue early in the morning about whether or not they should even attend the service with me, allowing them to stay at home and watch cartoons or something. But I’m not. I believe there’s strength in families where both parents worship and expect the kids to worship, too. I believe that parents should talk about God with their kids to help develop some sense of morality and spiritual awareness. And this talking, ladies and gentlemen, leaves me stuck, oftentimes, trying to figure out how to explain something spiritually poignant to people still struggling to tie their shoes.
My Princess has been fascinated of late watching kids get baptized at Church. She wants to do it, too. I think she thinks the baptismal pool is some holy swimming oasis or something where only a select few can don the white garbs and be dipped backwards into the water. Taking this interest as a cue, I’ve tried to add a bit more specificity to my discussions about God with the girls so that when they are really ready for baptism, they know what they’re saying they believe in without shaking their heads in ignorant agreement when asked by the pastor if they believe that Jesus died for their sins.
The problem, though, is that I have no idea how to explain God or Jesus to my kids in ways that will mean something important to them. I can share God’s magnificence with my girlfriends and relatives without questioning my delivery, but with my girls, I feel like I’m spiritually devoid of all good sense. As a result, I have jilted conversations that leave me wishing I’d done research like I did when I was lesson planning to teach about aestheticism in late 19th century British literature.
The Pirate says, “Why we can’t say ‘Oh my God,’ Mommy?” to me as we drive home from a family night out at Red Lobster for “Endless Shrimp.”
“Because it’s disrespectful to God,” I say, knowing that it’s not going to be all that comprehensible to my girls. I just don’t think I can explain taking the Lord’s name in vain in a meaningful way to them yet.
Luckily for me, at that moment, at least, the Princess jumps in with, “God made the trees, and the birds, and the grass.”
“Yes, Sweetie, He did.”
“And the fishes swimming in the sea waters?” questions the Pirate.
“Yes, Baby, and the fish, too.”
“And gas stations!” the Princess screams when she notices a BP station to her left.
“Yes.” My husband and I laugh as we continue driving toward home.
“Who’s Jesus?” I ask, trying to reinforce a lesson I taught to them on Sunday.
“God’s son,” the Princess responds.
“Good. Where is he?”
“Everywhere,” she answers.
“But, Mommy?” asks the Pirate.
“I thought you said, ‘Jesus is in our hearts.'” Here we go, I thought. Another example of my having to clean up something I thought would set them on the path to spiritual understanding.
“I did, Sweetie,” I begin, “but I said that when M. asked why we can’t see Jesus. I said, ‘you know he exists because you can feel him in your heart.'”
I follow with another question, you know, being a glutton for punishment, one that will ascertain if they remembered the most important part of the Jesus-is-in-your-heart discussion. “So when you put your hand on your chest and feel your heart beating, what is Jesus saying to you?”
“BREATHE!” The pirate screams enthusiastically, just knowing that her answer is correct.
Not exactly, I thought.I was going for “I love you,” but if she associates Jesus with a doctor, maybe that’s not so bad for the next few days. As for me, at least, I know I’m going to have to consult the Internet to figure out better ways to talk about God with the kids. This throwing darts in the dark is not working.