How do you teach your children about morality?
How do you teach your children about religion?
How do you teach your children about the love of God?
I certainly don’t have the answers. All of I have right now are pieces of a puzzle. But, gosh, where do I start? Morality, religion, and receiving the love of God through the Grace of Jesus–well, those all are different things. Maybe, a piece of the puzzle involves verbally upholding the values of justice, equality, kindness, peacefulness and truthfulness to name a few (Morality). And another piece of the puzzle involves modeling in my own life those values with a extra dose of grace, forgiveness, generosity, gratitude, and integrity (Religion). And the last piece…soaking in the love of God…that is a freely given personal choice. For Tai, For Zac, For their father, For me…There’s no other way.
Well.. we have to start somewhere, and in the Nieman home that place to start is the dinner table. We hold hands and say Grace before eating. Sounds so Norman Rockwell, doesn’t it. But, it doesn’t always happen in a portrait perfect manner. In fact, it only occasionally does. Sometimes, Tai refuses to hold Zac’s hand and sometimes, Zac doesn’t want to hold my hand. Sometimes, Zac starts eating before everyone is sitting down. And sometimes, I’m getting annoyed waiting for JD who is taking a full 2 minutes to get his beer with his lime while the food is getting cold. And sometimes, the food is already falling on the floor or stolen by Roxie, the shifty Sheltie mix, before we begin. And sometimes, we just plain forget.
But when we launch into prayer, led by Tai, it goes something like this:
“Dear Jesus, (Good job Tai, talking to the right guy, make note to teach him about Trinity later)
I love you so much (Adoration, textbook!)
Thank you for your Holy Name (Wow, definite advance Vacation Bible School stuff!)
Thank you for Mommy and Daddy and Zacky and Nonnie and PoPo and Grandpa (appreciate the nod to me…like that you are thinking ahead to those who are funding your future!)
Thank you for Poo Poo (What???!!!)
Thank you for Pee Pee ( Wait a sec…does he mean urine??? Is he getting disrespectful?)
Giggles, laughter from Tai.
Tai dives into food. I’m looking at Tai with my squinty eyes, thinking about my next move.”
So, I try to tell him not to say the Pee Pee or Poo Poo part in his prayers. But, it goes nowhere. He’s just annoyingly laughing at me. And now, he’s asking “Why ????”. Quite honestly, I don’t have a good answer except well, we usually don’t mention Poop or Pee to God.
Then, after a few times of this original prayer by Tai, I was thinking about it. Why don’t we? From the medical standpoint, the day you stop peeing, you are in serious trouble. With poop, you’ve got a few days of uncomfortable lag time, but once your gut stops working, it is a strain to enjoy life. Everyone eats so everyone poops. (line taken from one of Tai’s favorite books). Gratitude is such an important practice of a happy life (according to multiple scientific studies). And we learn in church to not just thank God for the good stuff but for the bad stuff, the difficult stuff, and the stinky stuff.
So, ok Tai. I think you are right to thank God for Poo Poo and Pee Pee. So, thank you God for Tai, for Zac, for JD, for Roxie, for this time know as Today, for this food, for the poop that will follow. And thank you Tai for teaching and reminding me.
Tai loves mangoes!