Sunday, March 22, 2009

Religion 101

My oldest son is almost 5. Every Sunday we attempt to reinforce the Sunday School lesson by asking him what it was about. We have been encouraged by the Children's Ministries director to do so. Our church uses Godly Play in the 5 and under crowd. Godly Play roughly follows the church calendar and uses all types of mediums (figurines, colored blocks, sand, art, water, music, drama, pieces of colored felt, and so forth) to talk about the creation story, the parables of Jesus, Noah's ark, Advent, the Nativity, and Easter, etc.

Every single Sunday without fail for the last six months we have asked our almost 5 year old, what was your Sunday school lesson about and every single time without fail he says, "oh it was about guns. Yeah and then we shooted people and I shot so-and-so deader." Lovely.

Today my husband and I helped with Children's Fellowship. So knowing that today they did not learn about guns and armed with both the children's lesson from big church and the movie that coincided with it during fellowship time, I dutifully asked my almost 5 year old, "so what was Sunday school about today?" And he said, just as dutifully, "oh, we had a really short story about guns." I said, "oh really? I thought today's lesson was about trees." And he said, "no that was what we did in the Clubhouse mom, not Sunday school." (Note: the Clubhouse is where the kids are corralled during worship). "Ah, I see. What else did we do in the Clubhouse?" I asked. Here is the following transcript:

Son: "Oh, we watched a movie about trees."
Mom: "Tell me about those trees."
Son: "Well there were three of them."
Mom: "I wonder what they wanted." (Note: Godly play does a lot of wondering. Almost every question starts with, I wonder...)
Son: "Well one wanted to be a treasure chest, but he ended up as a manger for the animals."
Mom: "What about the second one?"
Son: "Oh he was a fishing boat."
Mom: "I see. And the third one?"
Son: "I don't know."
Mom: "Didn't it become a cross?"
Son: "yeah that's it."
Mom: "Well I wonder who went in that manger?"
Son: "Jesus did. But I bet that first tree was disappointed. He really wanted to be a treasure chest."
Mom: "Well, but that manger held the greatest treasure of all. That's where Jesus was born." Son: "Yeah, but he wanted to be a treasure chest, not a manger."
Mom: "True. But don't you think he was something even better? (Moving on) What about the boat?"
Son: "I don't know."
Mom: "Jesus was on that boat calming the storm, remember."
Son: Shrugged his shoulders, not really that interested.
Mom: "And what about that cross? Who was on the cross?"
Son: "God."
Mom: "Well, not God exactly, but his son Jesus. Do you know why he was there?"
Son: "He died."
Mom: "That's true. Do you know why he died?"
Son: "Because he was really really old."
Mom: Trying not to laugh... "Well not exactly. He died for us." Frantically thinking how to put the crucifixion delicately. "He died to take away our sin so we can be closer to God."
Son: "Okay."
Mom: "Do you know what sin is?"
Son: "No."
Mom: "Well when we do things that disappoint God it's called sin. Like when you get in trouble with mom and dad for doing stuff you shouldn't do. What do you think God does about that stuff?"
Son: "Does he hit us?"
Mom: OH CRAP! No more spankings! "No Owen. God doesn't hit. God loves us."
Son: "Does he beat us up and take our stuff?"
Mom: "Are you being silly? No Owen. God asked Jesus to take our sins away so we can be closer to him always and forever."
Son: "Oh."
Mom: "You know what? After Jesus died, three days later he came back to life."
Son: "How did he do that?"
Mom: "God brought him back to life and then took him to heaven."
Son: "So when we get dead, are we going to come back alive?"
Mom: "Well, we will be alive again in heaven after we die. God brings us up to heaven to be alive with him."
Son: "Is that further away than space?"
Mom: "Yes it's so far away we can't even see it."
Son: "Cool. Can I have some more crackers now?"

I wonder who learned more here? Mommy or Child? What will you wonder about this week?

Thursday, March 19, 2009

On My Spring Break Vacation

My husband and I went to New York City for a few days over Spring Break. Visiting the Big Apple is always new no matter how many times I go. I must say I can tell I'm getting older. The very things I loved about New York in my late teens and early twenties I absolutely hate now--crowds, over-stimulating lights and signs, traffic, late nights, high heels, everyone wearing black, one in every 100 people speaking English. I find it amusing about myself how much I've changed.

Wearing tennis shoes is of course a dead give away that you're a tourist unless you are wearing work out clothes and carrying an iPod. Since I didn't take work out clothes to New York, I dutifully changed out of my tennis shoes as often as I could stand it. But walking in my sorely out-of-fashion-but-at-least-they-were-black knee high boots with 2 inch stacked heels was a big mistake for my flat footed self. I enjoy a good walk as much as the next person, but I think I gave myself a heel spur and my arches and calf muscles are in agony. Luckily for me, jeans are still in. So every day I put on my one pair of designer jeans. They are comfortable, fit well, and I had them hemmed for flats so they didn't gather too much at the bottom--also uncool.
And why is it that New York, fashion capital of the country, is still so insanely into black? I felt like I was in Europe the whole time. I'm no fashionista. I have neither the time, the money, nor the interest to give two cents to what is "in". I'm woefully trapped in wash-n-wear from LL Bean and Lands End and Old Navy with the occasional Talbot's sweater or dry clean only skirt. So I try to wear a few colors to brighten up my sadly plain weekday wardrobe. Apparently color is not cool either. I don't understand, I watched Sex in the City and they wore colors all the time. Anyway, 24 hours after my arrival I found myself buying a fabulous black belted knee length trench coat in black from Banana Republic that was on sale. I've had my eye on it for a while (it's pretty snazzy for me) but I needed a little push for the purchase. Needless to say I wore it day and night with my black scarf and black gloves and black boots and my jeans. I felt a little better about my attempt to look vaguely like a New Yorker--even though my shoulders are stiff, my neck is still itchy from the scarf, and my ankles may never be the same. In other fashion news, Ugg--LY boots are still very much in. It's like the 80's. Skinny jeans tucked into boots (with no heel now unless you're bravely walking in stilettos), colored tights are back--with black clothes of course, and huge purses continue to dominate the landscape--purses can be different colors. Apparently only accessories are allowed to come in more than one shade.

Other Stuff:
We saw some great shows! Avenue Q, A Night with George W. Bush (Will Ferrell's one man show), and Stomp! All excellent. We also got lottery tickets to a taping of the Dave Letterman show. That was very entertaining.
I broke my Lenten fast from alcohol and caffeine. It seemed more sacreligious to forgo the red wine while eating excellent Italian on vacation with my husband without our children and a serious possibility of sex. Of course, the next day, a diet coke was in order to function. Plus we were in Chinatown having an early lunch of Dim Sum and I had already downed the green tea which was chock full of caffeine, so I figure why not go the whole hog before returning to purgatory?
We went to Ellis Island. The audio tour is very good. We went to the Guggenheim Museum--coulda skipped that. I like art. I appreciate art. Alas, I don't understand modern art very much at all. We rode the subway, walked all over, shopped, slept late, and ate many more marvelous meals. No dishes, no screaming kids, no cooking, no driving, no housecleaning. And we caught a few minutes of the St. Patty's Day parade that went up 5th avenue all day on Tuesday.
Needless to say we had a super super time.

The Return:
So after several airline delays we arrived back in Chattanooga via Delta. I was reminded again why I prefer to fly Frontier out of Nashville and why I never fly out of Chattanooga unless it can be avoided. However, our flights were never cancelled and we did arrive safely and at a reasonable time, so I am grateful for small things even though I moaned like the weary traveller I was.
We arrived home at 3:05. Hugs, kisses, and presents all around. My older son was showing off and the baby had a green nose and a croupy cough. Typical. At 3:20 I discovered what looked like a snot explosion in the baby's right ear. I was back in the car and headed down the mountain by 3:25 and in the doctor's office by 4. Ear infection. So a trip to the pharmacy and the grocery store later with a quick stop at the Pumpkin Patch to play, I was back home washing dishes, making dinner, changing sheets, soothing a sick boy and disciplining my other one. Showers, medicine giving, and teeth brushing commenced shortly thereafter, and everyone was asleep by 8. A little tv, another load of laundry, a check on the boys, finally a quick check of my email and facebook--which I didn't even miss while away--and I collapsed in bed around 1130. I'm back from vacation alright. It's amazing how you step right back into it and it doesn't even phase you. What a vacation. By Saturday I'll need another one, but for now, I'm grateful and happy to be home. It isn't New York, but it's my life and it's always a colorful one, and I'm alright with that.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The Ins and Outs of the Sandbox

All kids need a sandbox. There is something so "earthy" about dirt. (haha) While I was watching my boys "play" in the sandbox, I was wondering, just what are they thinking? Do they have a rationale for this behavior? Is it merely fun? Do they have a goal in mind at the end of this play? Maybe they aren't thinking at all, just moving. All I know is there is more sand outside of the sandbox than in it. And I, being a neat and orderly person do not get it.
It amazes me how long the boys will play in the sand. I suspect I could leave the backyard go on a walk and come back an hour later and they would still be at it. By then though, the baby would have about a pound of sand inside his tummy (he's an eater) and the oldest would have piles of sand all around the yard. I often wonder if I should just save my breath instead of saying at least a dozen times per fifteen minutes, the sand goes in the box, where does the sand go, once it's gone it's gone--over and over and over.
I once heard my children's daycare director say, "yes, our one year olds are the fillers and dumpers." It was so spot on. Have you ever noticed that your toddler is intent on emptying out everything--Kleenexes, Lego's, blocks, cars, groceries, milk, cheerios--just to attempt to put it all back in the box again. Obviously they have yet to hear of Pandora. Maybe it's all about gravity. Maybe it's the sensory input of dry soft stuff on their little hands.
I don't know but I love to watch them. I could watch the boys play in the sand for a long long time. I love to take them to the beach. The oldest will dig holes for hours and the youngest will just grab handful after handful and look at it as if seeing it for the first time every single time. I love to watch them get in the sand box and then get out and squat down and stand up and walk around and come back and start the process over again. I mean, what on earth could require so much concentration? Every action is very deliberate.
There are some things you learn in the sand. Don't throw things (sand or shovels) you could hurt somebody. Don't take someone else's shovel unless they aren't using it. It takes more than one person to make a sandcastle, one to dig the moat, one to mold the sand. You have to take turns because nobody likes to dig ditches and everybody wants a castle. Be careful where you put your toys they could get buried in the sand and then you can't find them. Always put your things away and cover your sandbox--that way the dogs don't run off with your toys and the cats don't pee in your sand.
I reckon we should all go play in the sandbox for a while, we might learn something again for the very first time.