Wednesday, February 16, 2011

while i nurse pearl...

... George helps himself to a snack. Strawberries. The entire carton. Minus the top halves.

I love this view because it shows exactly what I saw when I went out to the living room to see what he was doing and why he was so quiet. He's just lounging on the couch enjoying his snack quietly by himself, discarding the parts he doesn't want on the coffee and end tables.

This is why I will wash and cut the tops off of the strawberries from now on before they are put away in the refrigerator.

Along with eating strawberries by the half, George does things that make me laugh every day. He tells elaborate stories, asks thoughtful questions, and still loves to cuddle. He is so curious about what letters spell and is constantly saying things like, "Mom, what does G-P-E-T-O-O-L spell?" He is getting the hang of writing his name and he loves to point out letters that are "his" (meaning in his name) wherever we go.

George loves reading (by reading I mean having them read to him) the scriptures and is the first to remind us to do so before we put him to bed. He is fascinated by the stories of Ammon, Abinidi, the Stripling Warriors, Noah and the Ark, and Nephi. We are trying to reinforce that it is really cool to be the good guys, but George isn't totally convinced; he loves the parts of the stories where people use swords and arrows and often says he'd rather be Laman than Nephi when acting out a story. We're working on it :).

John and I found ourselves backpedaling one day when George overheard a conversation we were having about Satan and asked about him. We tried to explain who Satan was and what he did, but all that ended up happening was George sobbing about a scary man that lives in a really dark place where there is never any light who tries to make people be mean and do bad stuff. "Does he live in our town?" he kept wailing, and we were like, "NO! Just forget about him!" which is why we tried to tell him that he lived far away in a dark place (outer darkness, ya know?), but that was so scary for his little mind, too. Ummm, how do you explain Satan to a three-year-old? We calmed him down by reminding him that Heavenly Father could help him feel better and peaceful and asked if he wanted to say a prayer. He did, and there haven't been Satan tears since, but there have still been questions. I guess we're still working on that one, too. How have you taught your little children about this? Have you? Maybe three is too young.

Another thing we have had a hard time conveying to George's inquisitive little mind is the Holy Ghost. We explained it to him and have talked about how it is a feeling of peace and safety and that The Holy Ghost can come to you when you are scared or need comfort. He was okay with that until one day he was alone in the car for a few minutes while I ran in the house and got scared. When I got back out to the car (I was literally inside for less than a minute) George was sobbing hysterically. I hugged him and tried to soothe him but he just kept sobbing, "I said a prayer to Heavenly Father and I thought the Holy Ghost would come, but he didn't!" which of course made me feel like a failure as a parent. I told him the Holy Ghost would come if he was scared, and with his perfect faith, he believed me. But how was he supposed to understand that the person who is the Holy Ghost would not likely actually come to him in the only way that would have made sense to him (an actual being coming to him when he called)? I know that this is actually a really sweet and endearing (maybe even a little funny) story, but it has actually caused me quite a bit of heartache. I can't bear confusing him and losing his trust, and all I can think about is how I will do better to provide him with experiences where he can feel the Holy Ghost, where I can explain to him what that is, and hope that he will understand. Do you guys have experience with this? I would love to know how you have explained these really not-concrete things to your young children.

While it may sound like we are spiritually failing our son right and left :), one place that I think he does have a pretty good grasp is prayer. Somehow he understands that he can talk to his Heavenly Father (and, *wince* don't think I am apostate, but Heavenly Mother, too) through a prayer and that he will be heard. He prays constantly. Almost daily I hear him in the backseat saying things like, "Heavenly Father, please don't let a big storm come to our town, okay Heavenly Father, OKAY?" And then he will announce, "He said okay!" So far we haven't run into any issues with something happening that he had prayed wouldn't happen, but I am sure that conversation is not too far down the road. How do you explain to a toddler that yes, Heavenly Father will always answer your prayers, but sometimes it might not seem like it because it may not be answered in a way we would expect or hope? Agh, this parenting stuff is not for the faint of heart. It makes me weary just thinking of it all.

So I have put all this out there and I know that there are some people (dear people that I love) that may think, "So if you can't even know how to teach your child about God, or how to answer a three-year-old's questions about how the Holy Ghost works, how can you actually believe in these things, how can you perpetuate these confusing concepts onto your child?" And to them I would say with all of the sincerity and honesty in my heart this: while I don't necessarily know all of the best ways to convey these things to my children right now,  I truly do know that teaching them about God and their spiritual natures will eventually bring them more answers than I ever could, that it will be the key to finding peace when they are confused, that it will offer them hope and light when anything or everything else fails them. I don't always know how to teach them about these things, but I know that if I don't, if I don't do my very best to at least try, I will be failing to give them the one thing in life that I am 100% sure of: my knowledge that they are children of divinity, that they have access to happiness and peace and love bigger than anything hard or scary that may come their way. Even if I don't always know how to teach them, I know that I must teach them. And I know that I, too, have access to Heavenly Help as I seek to care for and nurture these precious little souls that have been entrusted in my care. I could not do this whole motherhood thing if I wasn't sure of that.


Melanie said...

I love your words! You are a wonderful, faithful mother. Your litle ones are lucky to have you.

Teacher Mama said...

So, I remember vividly when my dad taught me about Satan. I was probably 4. We were standing outside our little house downtown in SLC by a crabapple tree in the front yard. After his explanation, I remember replying, "Well, I will be Satan's friend, because he doesn't have any. He needs friends too."

As it turns out, I haven't chosen that path. It probably had more to do with what my parents taught me through their actions than through their words. My dad spent time explicitly teaching us doctrine from the time we were tiny. That teaching was very valuable, but perhaps not as valuable as me waking up early in the morning and seeing him reading his scriptures. My mom did the same. She spent a lot of time telling us what we should do, but my best lessons came from watching her do good.

Mama Janet said...

I think our children do come trailing clouds of glory from whence they came. I love that you both teach George. He is so sensitive to the spirit. I liked reading the scripture readers to kids. It brings the spirit into the conversation and gives them a chance to learn the scriptures while in their youth. My best teaching time with kids was in their toodlerhood! After that they started teaching me! George will get over his fear if you don't give him too much attention when he reacts.