Theology For 5 Year Olds

October 28, 2011 by Rieshy

This morning I was greeted with the question,"If you are about to die and you yell real loud for God to save you right before you die, he'll save you- right?"

Coming from a chronically ill child who has survived several harrowing ambulance rides to the emergency room: this is not an idle question.  This is a child who has prayed for other children with his same disorder, some of whom have since died.

Why do my children only ask questions like these early, before coffee, or so late in the evening that my brain is fried?

Last week this same child whispered to me that he sometimes thinks God isn't nice.   He told me about praying for snow- and how "It Never Snows!",  praying not to have to go to the hospital and, "having to go anyway."

His line of reasoning was scaring him. God not answering prayers = God not being good.

That is a scary thought.

It made me think about how we sometimes thoughtlessly mention Intelligent Design when describing a loving God; how God makes everything to work together perfectly because he loves us.

What does that mean theologically for a 5 year old who's body wasn't "perfectly" made?  Whose body is lacking a critical enzyme?  

He tried to trap me with a question about God's goodness- "Does God watch girls when they change clothes?"

We simplify the message of the Gospel and Creation so that it is accessible, but platitudes about God don't sustain, don't hold up to deeper questions.

I would imagine this problem holds true for any young children that are not basking in a Disney-esque perfect childhood.  I'm praying that I listen when my children ask questions. I'm praying that I won't pretend to know the answers just because the questions make me uncomfortable.

Matthew 19:14
Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”


What You See And What You Don't

October 23, 2011 by Rieshy

These are growing along my front sidewalk.

I didn't plant them there this year, they volunteered from a couple of seasons ago.  Luckily I was too busy to weed them out this spring.  

What you can't see is the overall shape and condition of my garden.  Neglect would be the key characterizing word.  My husband enjoyed the vivid color enough to snap the photo.  He carefully left the rest of the garden out of the snapshot.

He loves me like that.


Not A Synonym and Too Much Hank

October 21, 2011 by Rieshy

My 5 year old checked out a Hank the Cowdog c.d. from the library.  Everywhere we drive we are accompanied by Hank's tales.  I'm starting to cogitate in Hank's vernacular, see, because as head of this ranch's social life I do a lot of cogitation.

It's kind of like what happens after an overdose of Dr. Suess.

I was fixin dinner yesterday.  "Fixin" because we live in the South.  We fix a lot of things.  We can even be fixin to fix a lot of things.

Anyway.  I'll try to write normally now...

My 3 year old ran in the back door in a gleeful burst of fresh air and hollered, "I need a sharp knife to cut the skin off too!"

So of course I reached in the knife drawer and handed my 3 year old a sharp knife.

Wait, no I didn't.  I believe what happened was a momentary tableau.  At the exact moment that he hollered, "sharp knife, and, skin," several other family members were in motion moving through the dining room and kitchen.  We all froze.

I think the word "skin" was the clincher.

"Um, what skin?"

"The skin like big brother is cutting off with his knife."

Well that was helpful.   There was a general household-wide movement to the back door.  "The skin of the pointy thing... you know..."

Why do children speak so slowly when you most want them to HURRY UP and get to the point.

"Oh, you know off a tree, a stick.  The skin on a stick."

"Bark!" exhaled 3 or 4 listeners all at once.

I think we offended him with our laughter.


Dangerous Platitudes

October 16, 2011 by Rieshy

We depend on them to fill the empty spaces.
Embarrassing spaces between what we know
and what we feel.

Or what we know and what we fear.
Grammatical spaces between the subjunctive planned for
and the indicative received.

 lest one must openly say,
"Don't despair, kind friend, it may leave a stain on my brain and that won't do at all."

Platitude spray, a killing kindness-
thought repellant, most viscously efficient
at killing nothing short of Faith.

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Murphy's Revenge

October 13, 2011 by Rieshy

If you are squeamish, or are lucky enough to be eating a danish and enjoying some coffee, you might want to skip this post.  Don't say I didn't warn you...

There is a lesser reported Murphy's Law of parenting.  It covers the relationship between a freshly purged and cleaned child's room and how quickly and how disgusting it can become.

Last week was fall break.  I cleaned out dressers, closets, mattress pads, pillows, sheets, blankets, toys, books.  It was a full boy's-room purge.  What was I thinking?

Nature abhors a... clean room?

My 19 yo commutes to college and has a bunk in his little brother's room.  He also freelances as a grip in production.  Yesterday morning he came out of his room still wearing his clothes from the day before.  "Hey Mom, the music video shoot was a lot of fun, but I got home pretty late.  It was in an old meatpacking plant that's been closed down for years- the architecture was interesting, but boy was it dirty, the dust was inches thick and was starting to turn back into soil."  He picked up an english muffin and continued talking.

At this point my brain stuck on the fact that my son had slept in his nasty work clothes; I was wondering how to reenact the decontamination scene from Silkwood.  And my son wonders why I sometimes don't pay attention to what he is saying.

I thought I had fulfilled Murphy's law.  But I underestimated it.

This morning I played a well know and well despised game of "Horror Hunting."  It's that lovely game that begins when a young child has been taken ill in the night, from one end or the other, and has subsequently walked through the house in search of assistance.

The rules of Horror Hunting are simple:

  • clean and comfort said child
  • backtrack their trail looking for artifacts of their passing
  • you must maintain a loving composure
  • you must avoid finding "artifacts" with your bare feet
  • gagging sounds are not allowed
My husband maintains that we need sloping floors and a large drain in the center of our home so I can occasionally just hose the whole house down. 

Yet, how would Murphy equalize that,  a falling satellite?


Define Chatting

October 7, 2011 by Rieshy

When you have an emergent reader running errands with you, the conversation can turn into a Strip Mall Alphabetarian

"That said S T O P. Stop has a P in it.  So does Panera.  It also has an S.  Starbucks starts with an S.  Look, there's a Starbucks.  McDonald's starts with M"

"No Honey, that's a Barnes & Noble.  It starts with a B."

"No it's not, I see an S, that says Starbucks."

Small hint, never argue with the distance vision of a 5 year old.  Barnes & Noble did indeed have a teeny tiny Starbucks sign.  My literacy in question, my son moved on to automobiles.

"If you see these circles," I could see wild air-drawing in the rearview mirror, "they say Toyota."

This consumer education was almost non-stop.  It was like driving with an overly enthusiastic tour guide.

"Mom, why does my foot hurt?'

"Is it asleep?" I asked.


A lesson on blood flow ensued.  Then it was time to stop to eat.  I mentioned that it was a special treat for just the two of us to eat out and that we could chat in the restaurant.  There was a pause.

"I don't think I can chat."

"Why [on earth] not?"

"Well Mom, I don't chat.  I only talk when I have something important to say...  Or if I need to ask you a question."



October 5, 2011 by Rieshy

Pointless: without force, meaning, or relevance

I have figured out a couple of things about parenting a child with a chronic illness.  Just a couple.
  1. It's pointless to think about the things your child might not be able to do in the future.
  2. It's pointless to wonder when the next hospitalization will come..
Yet I do think about these things.  

  1. Today, as my teens left for a 4 day hiking trip, I wondered if my 5 yo would ever be able to go on a trip like that.
  2. I found an old hospital-bag in my closet yesterday while searching for the boys' winter clothes. Should I pack a bag for this winter?

When does wondering cross the pointless threshold? 

I've come up with an addendum to the definition of pointless, if maudlin violin is playing in the background of my mind, I've reached self-indulgent pointlessness.

Wondering if my 5 yo will ever be able to go on a 4 day hiking trip? - definitely pointless.
Wondering if I should keep a hospital bag packed? - that's called planning.

If I want to wallow in self-indulgence I might as well eat chocolate because I don't even like violin music.  That's why my children take piano.



October 1, 2011 by Rieshy

One size fits all?

Some nights, getting bathed and dressed for bed takes a detour-
into silliness.