So I guess we’re into this phase now. You know, the phase where your 4 year old asks questions you’re not smart enough to answer.
I’m not talking about why is the sky blue? Or if gravity is so strong how can I just yank grass out of the ground? Or my favorite, Why can’t we pass everybody on the road? No, those are easy. Basic physics and traffic laws gives us the answers to all of that.
I’m talking about questions from Frank about heaven, and dying, and when will he die, and how will God find him to take him to heaven when he dies. Again basic theology and some good ole gospel talk has the answers for the questions, but really offers nothing for the fear and uncertainty of a 4 year old child who just became aware of his mortality and is now afraid to die.
I will say this, I was worried Christmas was becoming this gift grab, with total emphasis on how much stuff he was getting. When we started to explain about, death, heaven and Jesus being the way to get there, he tossed out this grenade, “If Christmas is celebrating Jesus’ birth why don’t we leave the Manger up and celebrate that all the time?” Good question.
Well, because we have to decorate for Valentines day silly!
Haha. Wow that was a question I was not prepared for in the least. So he appears to be thinking about more than gifts and Santa at Christmas. I gotta believe he’s not the only kid who’s had that thought process. The problem: what’s the answer? Is there one? I mean a good one, not my flippant Valentine’s Day thing.
We kept Easter low key gospel wise because we chickened out. With all the death talk and questions about eternity we weren’t sure we wanted to restart that conversation by saying Jesus’s dad sent him here to kill him so we can live. Unfortunately that was the perfect opportunity to do it, but like I said we got skeert and we like our sleep too much. Did I mention all this life actualization comes in the wee hours of the morning?
Sunday brunch kids, embrace it. Great time to ask stuff like this. Who couldn’t field these questions over a plate of eggs and chicken nuggets at 11am? At 2am there are several synapses not firing, hell both of my eyes may not be open. That’s another, possibly tougher conversation than year round Nativity Scenes.
Time of day not withstanding, you would think it would be easy enough to say, well we just celebrate birthdays one day a year, like mommy and daddy and AM do. The problem is we put the Chritmas stuff up mid December and take it down New Year’s eve day. So the man made Christmas “season” turns out to be harder to explain than the actual human birth of Jesus.
After all of that the question remains and the answer just as elusive. Why don’t we celebrate the birth of the Savior of the world all the time? Be advised I’m assuming the people who read and follow here are smart enough to understand we are a family who believes but doesn’t require you to. If you don’t that’s great, but you still have something to add.
Having a different set of beliefs doesn’t shield you from your kid asking a question about heaven or God or Jesus. It just means we’ll probably answer those questions differently. That’s ok too. There is always something to be learned from parents as they relate to their kids about serious life and death questions regardless of philosophical approach.
Anyway, what’s the answer? Why not celebrate the birth of God’s son with a manger scene displayed year round? Would save me from having to drag it out every December, but my laziness can’t be the final answer.
I’d love to hear your thoughts if you dare.
You know the drill, answer in the comment section.
Love that Frank…:)
Sitting here thinking about how I would answer that, should one of mine pose it. Guessing I would say something like, “That’s a GREAT question. Why don’t we? While we’re trying to figure it out, let’s find a special place in the house and keep the manger scene out year round. (break) Now, as far as celebration goes, let’s remember that we celebrate Him every time we open the bible and read His word. We also celebrate Him when we treat one another the way He asks us to…with love. We celebrate everything about Jesus…not just His birth. That’s cool, right?”
Of course, this may lead to follow-up questions – and that’s not a bad thing, right? 🙂
Great question Frank…and you’ve a GREAT role model in your father (and Father) to help you find the answer.
Thanks Chris. I’m leaning in this direction. Really what would be the big deal of keeping the thing up year round?
Wow, you go from a pee-filled night possting to this heavy stuff in less than 24 hours…you are good! I think correlating Jesus’ birthday to our birthday’s (one day per year) might be a good starting point. Identifying that we Christians celebrate Jesus’ life events across the year but not for the whole year (Christmas, Easter, Ascension, etc) might be a good second main point. Lastly, working to separate the man-made Christmas connection to the birth of Jesus Christ can be tough. Connection to the gifts that the Wise Men brought on that one specific and special day and the gifts we exchange would be my third main point. Luckily, you are a great instructor and patient parent and I know you will do well on this one 🙂
Thanks Chief. You know me, can never stay focused on one subject too long. That’s why I was such a pain in the ass during IST. 🙂 Your 2nd main point is timely. He got a liturgical calendar at pre-school.
I ghot nothing, because it brings up the longstanding issue of being outwardly religious, vs. inwardly spiritual.
But one little unsolicited tidbit of advice. Don’t give them more than they can handle. Little kids shouldn’t be worried about dying. I know you think your kids are geniuses, but we all do! And Frank is obviously a genius and precocious. But your kids are still really young people. There is plenty of time to give them the serious explanations. I remember a story about a little kid asking his parent about a bird and a bee, and the parent gave this long winded explanation about birds and bees. But the poor confused kid just wanted to know about a bird and a bee! You can ignore everything I just wrote here. You know your kids best. I just think we all get excited to try and be the best parent ever!!! And my kids often remind me that I was not. Except they’re kidding me. I think.
I think that’s the line we’re struggling with. What’s too much. We held back on telling him about Anne Marie’s twin Linda Claire, who died the day they were born, because at two he really didn’t have much knowledge of her. So this past Christmas he asked about her and we really didn’t know what was too much.
I’m with you, Frank’s smart but having the capacity to understand some if not all of this is a different story and probably beyond him currently.
Love, love, love your blog! I’m with JETSR…from a pee-filled night to dying angst makes for, as always, interesting reading. I don’t have any advice, just observations of American culture. Many households differentiate the secular Santa from the religious aspects of the holiday. Some celebrate the birth of Christ everyday through prayer and commemorate the resurrection every week through communion. Perhaps the answers are more easily explained through actions rather than physical symbols such as mangers. In any case, I’m also with Chef Mimi about not giving him more than he can handle, and you will know what that amount is.
I recently had this conversation with the seven yr. old, when I did I prefaced everything having to do with death by saying that Mommy believes this (so she will understand that not everyone does).
I remember when my grandfather died years ago the two oldest boys were like 5 & 7 yrs. old. I told them that Grandpop had died and he was going to heaven to be with Jesus and when he got there all of his relatives and pets that had died before him would be waiting there to greet him. They asked what he would be like when he got there (physically) and I said that I believed that he would be whatever age he liked the best (like 20, with a fit body). Then I told them that they could draw a picture of Grandpop and we would put them in the coffin with him. I’ll never forget that the older one drew a picture of his great grandpop running and jumping (picture a sprinter jumping a hurtle) and my grandparents deceased dog was chasing along behind. Like everyone else has said the explanation just needs to fit the age, don’t give him too much!
Thanks Lisa. That’s the trick really. He got a new testament at school and he asked me what it was. I told him it was a book about Jesus and he says, “I want to read that.” cute just because, funny because he can’t read. But it’s clearly more than a passing interest.
When I was about 5 years old I remember having trouble sleeping one particular night. The confusing and scary ideas of dying and heaven and forever were on my mind and I started crying. My mother came to see what was going on with me. I told her I didn’t think I wanted to go to heaven when I died because I wasn’t sure it was so good that I would want to be there forever. My mother, gently stroking my head said, “Oh honey, we don’t know what heaven will be like, but we do know that if God says it is good then it will be good. It will be what we want. We can trust Him.” Those words made sense to my 5 year old mind. Frank’s grammy then patted my chest, gave me a kiss and I went to sleep.
OK Grammy is full of beans, Heaven will be what we want? If that’s the case I’m going right now. A never ending golf course, with a hotdog stand every 5 holes!?!? Nice.
Tracy actually tried some of that. No go. To be honest he’s so bent on the year round nativity scene thing I can’t remember what we said to him that night that finally set him at ease enough to go back to sleep.