Sunday, January 25, 2009

Conversations On God

I didn't realize a three-year-old (going on four) could be so concerned about death. For the past several weeks, Misha has come back to the topic of getting old and dying countless times. This was brought on by a couple of things. One was talking about Great Grandma, who died a year ago. My mom tells him about her and shows him pictures. He knows he got his yodeling goat from his Great Grandma, but I doubt he really remembers dancing to it in her assisted living home with her. He was only one and a half. Every time we talk about her, or even when we're talking about something completely different, he'll pop up with, "Why did Great Grandma die?" And we'll say something like, well, she was old, and she was sick. She went to the hospital, but it didn't work and she died.

The other source of worry is the song “Puff the Magic Dragon.” He was very concerned about the ending, how the little boy grew up and didn't come to play anymore. "Why did he not come to play anymore, Mommy?" And I said, well, he got older. He didn't want to play; he got too old. That made Misha very sad (it IS a sad song!) and he said, "But when I get older, I still want to play. I just need a bigger bike." And then he's been asking a lot of, "Mommy, are you old?" I say I'm not very old. And he tells me a lot, "I'm young. I'm young, Mommy! Are you young? (yes) Is Daddy young? (yes) Is Grandpa young?" I say, "Well, Grandpa's kind of middle." "Middle?" "Yes, not young but not old." Misha says, "No, Grandpa's young too!"

So one night trying to fall asleep, he started up with all his same questions about Great Grandma and dying and getting old. "Why do people die?" he asked. I started explaining how when you get old, your body isn't as strong anymore and it gets sick. He got very worried and said he had stuffies in his nose so he was sick and he didn't want to get old. So then I tried to show him that he was VERY young. "You're only three! That's one - two - three." Then I counted to 100 for him to show him that Great Grandpa is still alive and he's almost a hundred and it takes a LONG time to count that far. He was very impressed.

I also tried to focus on the positives of getting old - that means that you have done a lot of things in your life, and met a lot of people, and loved a lot of people. " And then," I said, "when you've done all those things, your body just gets used up kind of like a battery." I thought that was a pretty nice analogy, but apparently it was the wrong thing to say because he burst into tears and said, "But I don't WANT my body to get used up like battery and die!" He was shaking all over and crying, and I quickly said, "But it's okay when you die, because then you get to go to a special place and you can see God." He was immediately much calmer. "God?" he asked, in a voice that would accompany the image of a dog perking up its ears. (Our first conversation about God came about because of singing “He's Got the Whole World in His Hands” with the guitar. Who does? Well, God! What's God? And so on ... It's much trickier than one would think explaining God, because you feel like everything you say is far too limiting.) I said, "Yes, and you can see all the other people who went to God, like Great Grandma." He said cheerfully, "And I'll grow up and when I die I'll go to God and say 'Hooray, I'm at God!'" We also talked about how he'll grow bigger and get to do fun things, like have a house, and I'll come visit him at his own house. He said, "And I'm gonna get big, and can you tell the truck to bring me some bricks?" "Some bricks? For your house?" I asked. "Uh huh, so nobody can't blow it down." (Gotta watch out for that Big Bad Wolf, you know.) Anyway, he fell asleep much more easily after that. However, in the morning, he woke up and his first question was, "But mommy, why do people die?"

And now, for a few photos ...

Misha loves looking at his own blog, especially the videos of himself!

To my delight, Misha has started to enjoy fruit more. We made strawberry-yogurt freezies, as featured in the Highlights magazine, and he thinks they are delicious. He also likes just eating the strawberries (dipped in a little sugar) and grapes. And he discovered how good orange juice sucked from an orange is!

Practicing guitar again. He makes it look huge!

Misha and Daddy playing with his new Tag Leapfrog book. The "pen," when touched to the page, will not only read the words but play sound effects and character comments for each image touched. There are also creative reading games in the back. Thanks, Grandma Kate!

Speaking of reading, Misha is starting to read three-letter words like cat, fox, etc. He knows almost all of his lower-case letters and their accompanying sounds, so we've been inventing creative games for him to play to practice. Once, Josh set up cups under lettered sticky notes all over the house. He and Misha would read a word together, then Misha would run around to all the letters and put a ball in each cup that matched the letter. Yesterday, I made him little cards, half with a picture and the other half with a matching word. He would sound out the word and match it to the card with that picture. He really liked it! It wasn't like "work" at all. He would say, "cuh ... uh ... puh! cuh uh puh!" and finally - CUP! - and off he'd run to grab the picture. He still needs help with some letters and with blending the sounds together, but he amazes us with how well he does. He has also started writing "MOM" on the pictures he draws for me. (He draws the two Ms first, then pops the O in the middle!) Today the word MOM was accompanied by a letter "t", for Tammy, he told me. That always makes me feel really good! Here's a little video of him reading "bat."

1 comment:

Tanya and Aaron said...

I remember obsessing about getting old and dying when I was little, too. I took comfort in the fact that as the youngest of the family, I would surely be the last to die. Now I'm not sure why that is a comforting thought, but it worked when I was a young 'un.