One thing I’ve grown to love about the particular stage of parenting that I’m in at the moment is having children who are old enough to have real conversations. Of course, sometimes these conversations are just stinkin’ hilarious, but then there are so many that are truly meaningful and I even find myself walking away encouraged from having to think through a particular topic with a child. There’s something about having to explain a very difficult topic, like why a good God would call our best friends to live in a different city from us (something Molly Kate really wrestled with when Sizie moved away) or why God is not pleased when we constantly call attention to our good deeds and acts (something Mikias, a.k.a. my little legalist, struggles with), to a child that truly exercises my brain, my faith and my knowledge of God’s Word. And I really love it!
So, here’s a little peek into a few conversations (two funny and one serious) as of late. For the last two weeks every member of our family minus Kevin has had runny noses, itchy eyes and headaches. Allergy season hit full force around here and I was trying to explain to Mikias what that means. His eyes had been particularly itchy that day and I was trying to help him understand that he has an allergy to something in the air right now. He put it together that we have all been wrestling with allergies, so he said “Mikias has allergies, Molly Kate has allergies, Miles has allergies, Madden has allergies…everybody has allergies!” I think he was just relieved that he wasn’t alone! At any rate, we were at the dinner table that evening and I must have said something about my nose itching and Mikias (no doubt thinking of our conversation earlier that day) looks up from his plate and says with much enthusiasm “Daddy, everybody has treadmills!” I burst out laughing, Kevin looked so very confused and Mikias, realizing he missed the word, couldn’t decide whether to be frustrated or join in my laughter. Thankfully, being the good-natured kid that he is, he decided to laugh it off and once he remembered what a treadmill is, he really got tickled!
This past week, we had our post-placement meeting with our social worker for Mikias (home 6 months) and Miles (home 3 months). We met at a McDonald’s with a great playground and the kids had a blast. On the way home, the kids requested to listen to Christmas music (yes, guilty as charged…I put it in the first day the weather cooled off). After a few songs, Molly Kate said “Hey Mommy?” to which I had to turn the music way down (for some reason the speakers in the back of our van only work with movies and not music, so we have to blast the music for Molly Kate and Mikias to hear it). Then she follows with, “One day when I get older, I want to ride a zebra.” Once again, Kevin and I just lost it…how in the world did her little head go from listening to Christmas music to thinking about riding a zebra?! Kevin replied “That’s quite adventurous of you, Molly Kate. Will you ride it with a saddle or bare back?” “I think a saddle, Daddy.” And that was that…back to “Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow!”
Now this morning’s conversation might be one of the neatest so far. At breakfast I read a couple of paragraphs from The Child’s Story Bible by Catherine Vos. The language is a bit above our oldest two, so we just read short sections and then I ask them some questions to make sure they’ve understood the story. Today we read about the Fall. The story explains that the devil was once an angel who turned from doing good to being wicked and that he hates God. It goes on to describe how he disguised himself as the serpent and lied to Eve to get her to disobey God. As I was reading, Mikias said “I don’t like Satan.” And I said, “That’s right…Satan is God’s enemy and if we love God, then we will hate Satan.” We talked about how the devil is the one who wants us to do bad things and disobey God. I told them that when I yell at them or get angry, that it is Satan working in me to disobey God. At one point, Molly Kate had tears in her eyes…you could see the thought of anybody hating God so violently was almost more than she could take. Mikias on the other hand was ready to go to war…he says “I want to fight Satan,” and he picks up his fork as if he’s about to stab the air. So, I explained that the way we fight Satan is by obeying God. When we do that which pleases God, Satan loses the battle. I couldn’t believe the wheels turning in their heads, but they had both been quiet for a little while and I, thinking the conversation was over, began clearing away the breakfast dishes. As I stood up, Mikias said “Mommy, I want to pray against Satan.” Wow! Here my 6-year old son, who had only been regularly hearing of God for the last six months of his life, already understands that we are at war with an enemy and one way to fight is prayer. I had not even explained that part…he got to that point all by himself. So, I sat back down and we prayed…we prayed that Satan would not have victory in our lives, that we would fight our sin and disobedience and that ultimately Mikias, Molly Kate, Miles and Madden would come to trust in Jesus as their Savior, the only way that Satan will lose the final battle for their souls. Then we prayed for God to be powerful and mighty against the ways the devil works wickedness and evil in the world around us.
I know lots of parents wonder about the best way to teach their kids about God. We spend time researching the best children’s bible, question if our churches’ children’s program is really helping them learn truth, and even spend tons of money to send them to private Christian schools in hopes of them gaining a better Christian worldview as they are educated (not that any of these things are bad…they are all certainly good means by which our children come to know more of God). But I don’t think anything can ever replace a parent stooping regularly to explain God and explain His Word as life around them happens. Constantly talking about who God is and how He works is the way our children come to know Him…and what a beautiful grace of God that we parents grow in our love and knowledge of Him by those very same conversations.