Tuesday 16 November 2010

Conversations with a three year old

We still get the what's, where's, and why's, but now the questions are more complicated, the conversations more complex.

Nothing forces you to look deeper at your faith and your beliefs than having a three year old press you for answers to his many difficult questions. How to explain the abstract to a child who thinks only in concrete terms? How to know what to say when - too much? not enough? How can I know? The finer points of my beliefs have been deeply refined in the process as I have had to put them into terms a three year old could perhaps begin to understand, an unexpected blessing in the midst of such an important yet difficult time of questioning.

In typical three-year-old style, he processes things over weeks, even months. There are recurring themes to our conversations. Sometimes he will leave a subject alone for a few weeks, but when he brings it up again it's clear he's done a lot of thinking about it in the meantime. Death is one such current theme. Why do people die? When? Do cars die? What happens? Round and round we go, trying to be both matter-of-fact and sensitive, seeking to avoid pat answers or fallacies on the one hand and anxiety on the other.

He's still very possessive of his baby "bruzzer". The baby belongs to him. Recently, in a less-than-stellar parenting moment, I scooped the crying baby up and grumpily asked him what was wrong. As I walked away, the boy followed me, arms crossed, giving the occasional huff or growl. I asked him what was wrong with him now, and he told me, "you were being MAD to my bruzzer!" Can't stay annoyed with either of them after being told off like that! I hope he always stands up for his brother that way.

"Why does Daddy love Luke?"
"Daddy loves Luke because Luke is his son, his baby, and he thinks Luke is wonderful and special and he loves him very much."
"Luke is not Daddy's. Luke is Mommy's."
"Luke is Mommy's and Daddy's."
"No, Luke is mine!"
"Oh, he's yours, is he? Well then, you can get up to take care of him when he wakes up in the middle of the night, and I will keep sleeping."
"No, you get up and feed Luke when he wakes up, and I will 'nuggle him while he sleeps".
"Oh, alright."

* * * * *

"I'm gonna eat him up! Num num num num num!"
"Nooooooooooo! Don't eat my bruzzer!!!!!!!"

I so love learning more about the way he views things. Sometimes his perceptions are surprisingly wise. Of course, there is plenty of room for more light-hearted moments:

“What are we having for supper tonight?”
“We’re having pork fried rice.”
“Ahh, I don’t like that stuff, no that’s yucky.”
“Okay. What about rice with meat in it. Would that be good?”
“Yeah, that would be good, rice with meat in it, let’s have that.”
“Okay, we’ll have that instead.”

Lately, he's very big on apologizing for things. I see myself in him this way, as I've always been one to apologize too much - I'm sorry for the inconvenience, I'm sorry I didn't do it perfectly, I'm sorry you're upset. I'm only learning now, slowly, to let go of some of that misplaced responsibility. It's a fine line between being aware of how my actions affect others and not taking responsibility for their feelings and reactions. It's an even more difficult balance to pass on to a concrete child, not forcing them to accept responsibility for the feelings of everyone around them, and yet desiring them to be compassionate and empathetic individuals at the same time.

“Oof, you’re heavy!”
“I’m sorry I’m heavy. I used to be smaller...”

His two most common queries lately are "tell me about when I was born" and "tell me what are we going to do tomorrow?" I do so enjoy cuddling with him and telling him about the events leading up to his birth, the excitement, the anticipation, the joy. After he hears about his birth, he asks me to tell him again about the night his brother was born. He'll then ask for the story of anyone else that comes to mind, but those are the only two stories I have to tell. One evening I had him phone his Oma so she could tell him about his daddy's birth, and hopefully he will soon have the opportunity to do the same with his Grandma.

Asking about our plans for the following day is his favourite bedtime stalling bonding topic. I curl up in his toddler-sized bed and tell him what we'll be doing. Sometimes we have no particular plans in place, so he'll tell me his own plans instead.

"Tell me about what are we going to do tomorrow!"
"Actually, I have no plans tomorrow at all! What would you like to do?"
"My plan is to go to the play place."
"That sounds like a good plan to me."
"Yeah, and we can get bananas while we're there." (The play place and the produce market are at the same mall, so lately when he wants to go to the play place, he tells me we need bananas. Love the way that kid thinks!)
"Sure, sounds great."
"And I will just play for a short time, a short short time. Just two minutes. Just two."
"Well, we don't have anything else to do, I think we can play for longer than two minutes."
"No. Two minutes is good. Okay? Just two."

Sometimes his questions are hard to answer. Sometimes his observations are thought-provoking. Sometimes his perceptions are unique. He is sometimes sweet, sometimes stubborn.

And sometimes he simply leaves us roaring in laughter.

Daddy: "Dear God, thank you for this food and please bless it to our bodies. In Jesus' name, Amen."
Mommy: "Amen."
The boy: *BELCH* "Amen."

1 comment:

  1. What a sweet boy! He reminds me a lot of Rylee. Her questions are getting more complex and sometimes even simple ones seem hard to answer (having a big sister that thinks she knows everything doesn't help lol). Rylee has so many questions about God (where is God, what does He look like, did he really make everything?). It's so neat to watch their little minds work. Sometimes I think a simple answer will suffice only to have her follow up with a question that just blows my mind and leaves me stumped for a few moments.