Monday, July 18, 2005

A child's perspective on life

Regular readers of this blog may know that bedtime is a pretty big deal in our house. Between picking the right pair of pyjamas and changing into them, brushing and flossing, negotiating bedtime extensions and hunting for favorite blankies and stuffies, the complexity of moving our three kids from an awake state to an asleep state can often rival that of a Space Shuttle launch.

And we love every second of it.

Part of the ritual involves storytime. Often, we read their favorite books, or we tell them stories (their favorites are the ones about Mom and Dad when we were younger), or we simply let the older sibs read to the younger ones. This often leads to deep discussions about life, the universe, and everything.

All too often, I'm stopped in my tracks by what our kids share with us as they drift off to sleep.

To wit, Noah, 4, sighed very loudly the other night after the two of us had finished a long conversation about what my bedtime was like when I was 4. He very seriously looked at me as he clutched his beloved blanket, scrunched himself under his comforter and adjusted his pillow just so. Then, he let me have it:
"Daddy, I hope I never die. I always want to be a kid."
For what seemed like the millionth time since my wife and I became parents, I had no words. He's been bringing up death and dying more so than usual in recent weeks, and I've struggled with how to respond to it truthfully without letting too much of life's cold realities into his world.

I looked at him, all small and curious and looking right back at me for an answer, and I just couldn't string together the right answer (some writer I am.) All I could think of was how badly I wished for his wish to come true, and how sad I was that it wouldn't.

So I held onto that fleeting moment - and to him - tightly in the hope that the memory would carry me long after the moment had passed. He didn't see the tears in my eyes as I did so.


Leanne said...

Wow Carmi. Being pregnant right now I find your parenting bloglettes inspiring. Sometimes saying nothing evidently says everything. I only hope that my child can be as inspiring as your children and that I will be as in touch with them as you are.

Bill said...

Kids seem to be at their best with these kinds of thoughts! I think we "wish" that they have "kids thoughts" that we can easily answer but it isn't that simple. Their minds are all over the place exploring and learning.

The death question is a tough one because it's a subject nobody really wants to think about. The best we were able to come up with was the truth in that God has made us that way and that we are here to live and enjoy the family and friends we have. Then, when we die, which we hope is a long ways off, it can be a good thing too because we can then be with God and a lot more friends forever.

I think that the re-affirming of hope and the good in it is helpful. It can be as simple as "We are sad and will miss them, but we are happy because they are now with God and we will see them later."

But, those kids sure know how to stop us in our tracks at bedtime when we're thinking ahead to all the other "adult" things we want to do!

Enjoy their youth with them!

trusty getto said...

Oh, aren't they just amazing at that age? My daughters are 3 and 6, and in just the last two months have gone to two funerals. It's incredible what they take from the experience and the things they think about! Thankfully, they seem to have a healthy curiosity and understanding. Let's hope it stays that way!

CanEragon said...

I believe that children pick up on things more than we think. it's interesting that Noah is inquisitive.

i wonder what has led to his line of comments? Maybe he's missing the pet, and this is a way of saying so?

I don't know what to say, but i'd be honest with him when he asks, to whatever degree you can be.

You will find the answers, and as Bill said earlier, God knows what's going on.

Noah might continue to surprise you.


puremood said...

Oh Carmi, what a great post! I can say I have those moments, too, when I'm not sure what to say to my kids - or don't want to ruin the moment for them. They are indeed, so precious. being Mom or Dad isn't eay.. but moment like that (this) make it the best job, ever. :) Thanks for sharin' your story.

Blond Girl said...

What a lovely story. I've had those moments, too, since my dad passed away and my mom moved in with us. Sometimes you don't need an answer, you just need to hold them. I think you got it just right...and I'm glad you can't see the tear in my eye, either.

Danb said...

Carmi- Amazing... what comes from the mouth of a child? I, like you, wish for that for him, for any child, that thier hope and wishes would come true. Here's to the grace given to parents to wade through the wonderful path of parenthood. With a heart like yours, your children are surely blessed with a wonderful father. Keep running the race man. Thanks for opening the window for us to peer into your heart.

Sleeping Mommy said...

Ah Carmi, I never know what to say either. And we have been having more and more of those "hard discussions". They are hard because he's at that in between age. He's nearly four, not quite old enough to understand and keep things in perspective, not young enough to be oblvious of all the bad stuff in the world.

How do we protect them AND their innocence?