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Monday, November 5, 2012

Explaining life-stuff to a kid...is there a handbook for this?

Now that Emeline is 2 1/2 she is (beyond) chatty, picks up on everything, very interested in little details, adds new sayings, phrases, and facial expressions to her repertoire daily. She sings new songs all the time, she's starting to learn new concepts, routines, and she soaks everything in. Everything.

I've found that with this age comes a whole lot of explaining, too. It's fun, and it's hard. We're really trying our best to explain things to her in a kid-friendly way, without being confusing, but also without sugar coating stuff, either. It's like---a teeter-totter balance. A fine line. Of being very honest, of using words she understands, of making sure the look in her eye stays the way a 2 year old should look. If you know what I mean.

My kid doesn't forget much. It was just a few weeks after she turned two that her Great Poppop (my grandfather) passed away. She came with us multiple times, back and forth to their home, as he was lying in a bed, plagued with a short & aggressive form of cancer. She knew he was 'sick'.

On the way to visit my Grandmother after he had passed away, I remember Emeline saying in her sweet, innocent, sing-songy voice, "I go see Gate Poppop! and Gate Gandmom!"  And Declan and I just looked at each other. I gave him the nod, like you've got this. And he gently explained that he was sick, and so he's now in heaven. Great Grandmom lives alone and Great Poppop went to be with Jesus. That's what seemed fitting at the time. She followed that up with, "Oh, Gate Poppop in heaven..." And every time we've visited since she's remembered that its just Great Grandmom there, because Poppop was very sick and went to heaven. She still remembers.

I don't know, though. I just don't know how to handle everything. How to explain it correctly. How to handle strong, life-altering things like the concept of death.

Then there's different scenarios. Funnier, more light-hearted things. The concept of Christmas, for example, is one we've been talking about recently.

She keeps saying, "I went to Christmas! Daddy, I went to CHRISTMAS!!" And I finally realized that she meant that we went to THE MALL, which is (already! for the love!) decorated for Christmas. She kept telling us over and over again about Christmas, and then when we try to explain that it's a holiday, and not a "place", she still asks, "Can Daddy come to Christmas, too?" Bless her heart, girlfriend's confused. To try and differentiate the two, we now refer to the mall as "The Christmas Mall". As if that will help.

We tell her that Christmas is about Jesus' birthday. That he was a gift, that's why we give gifts. That people brought him gifts when he was born. We tell her about the trees and decorations. And every time she see's twinkly lights, a christmas tree (again! the mall! for the love! target, too!), she shouts, "MOMMY IT'S CHRISTMAS! THE SPARKADA-DLES! (sparkly lights)"

She knows about Santa, and that he's that jolly, old fat guy that brings presents, too. She already knows he's an icon of Christmas, it just is what is. But we try to focus on what we want to teach her is the real reason. But in kid terms. We try to explain in the way we think makes sense to her. We do our best.

Another thing that has piqued her interest lately is Communion time at Church. We only take it once a month, and it's nothing too fancy. A small little cup of grape juice and a small cracker. Well, it's a really hard concept to explain to a 2 year old. Really hard. So I hadn't really attempted to yet, even though I know she was dying to understand. Or dying to drink the juice, if I'm being honest.

But one day a few weeks ago as we were driving to Church, Emeline was talking about how she was "So 'cited (excited) for church today!" We asked her why and she replied all peppy & quick with, "So I can eat Jesus' BODY!" 

I nearly choked on my gum. Whicka-WHATdidyoujustsayKID?

I gave my husband the look of death as he gave me the little shrug and a I tried to explain communion to her-explanation.

Yea. So. Then it led us down the rabbit trail of how the cracker is a symbol and how it's not actually Jesus' body, but that it's so we can remember. AND WHOA. Enter in a WHOLE!LOT!MORE! complicated stuff.

I mean, she's 2 1/2. We know that. But it's hard. It's almost like a rabbit trail. One question leads to another, which leads to another, which leads to that I'm not sure I'm ready to tell her all this right now thing, but it still leaves questions in their mind. It's hard. It's a hard balance, and we're learning.

It's been an interesting journey so far. And honestly? I think we're doing okay for the most part. But there are times we just laugh and think, Nope, should have waited to talk about THAT.

Parenting is no joke.

***

So tell me, are you just going with the flow with this kind of stuff with your kids? Serious and non-serious things...? Have any funny stories of things your kids have misinterpreted because their little brains just can't get it fully right now?

Do share...

27 comments:

  1. We have been attending our church for about 6 months now so my husband and I are still learning so I hope that I know all the answers before my inquisitive daughter starts asking the tough questions! We just had our first Lord's supper experience last night and since we're not yet baptized we didn't participate but it was awesome to watch. Anyways... my daughter goes to the nursery at church and refers to it as the baby park... I have no idea where that term came from. If I tell her we're going to church she says "no Mommy, you and Daddy go to church, I go to the baby park."

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  2. I wrote about similar-ish stuff today. Parenting is such a scary responsibility. Ethan is just now beginning on the whole question front and I can already tell how difficult it is going to be to answer correctly.

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  3. I love it! She sounds like such a doll. We still haven't figured out the right explanation for communion to our 4 year old and we take communion weekly. YIKES! He gets the basic idea that is to remember Jesus but that is about all.

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  4. My mom loves to tell the story of when I was a two, I asked my parents where the sun goes at night. My dad explained it in scientific terms (complete with a diagram he drew on a napkin!). And then after listening to him intently, I still asked, but where does the sun go!

    My mom responded, it goes night night, and that was good enough for me.

    I can just picture my dad with the diagram though.

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  5. When my son was born, my then 3 year old daughter was very interested in his p#nis. We use anatomically correct words at my house and we are very matter-of-fact. Fast forward 8 months and they are taking baths together. We explained that she and her brother could see each other naked for now because they were both little, but once they got a little bit older, they wouldn't do that any more. Then, we told her that the next time she could see a p#nis was when she got married (we set the bar high at our house...)

    A few months later on the way to school, she said, "Mommy, when I grow up, I want to marry my friend Parker so that I can see his p#nis!"
    I responded, "Anna, you don't get married to see someone's p#nis, you marry someone because you love them, and getting to see their p#nis is an added bonus."
    She sat quietly for a minute, then said, "So when I grow up and marry Parker, I can see daddy's p#nis, too?"
    I said, "no baby, you don't ever get to see daddy's p#nis."
    She burst out, "that's good!"

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  6. My mom is blonde, my dad has dark brown hair. My sister is a redhead and I had Dad's dark brown hair. I was about 5 and I asked my mom why our hair colors were different. She launched into a conversation about "genes"... of course, my 5 year old mind pictured a pair of Levi's! So I thought, your hair color was decided by what type of pants you wore! :)

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  7. Lizzy says weird things about church all the time...where she like HALF gets the story, but not the point. The other day, while playing with Legos, she told me that she was building the "naughty Babel tower" so that God would make her speak a different language. So clearly, a little something got lost in the translation THERE, lol!

    Also, I don't know if you guys have this one already, but we really thought this board book (http://www.amazon.com/Story-Christmas-Patricia-Pingry/dp/0824918452/ref=la_B000BPFPMC_1_5?ie=UTF8&qid=1352127922&sr=1-5) did a good job with talking about Jesus AND Santa and Christmas. It's a short one...and I feel like we read it all the time last year...and maybe it kind of helped Lizzy understand?

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  8. To Carolyn above.... BAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!

    Eme is such a doll. I mean, clearly, I've never met her, but she just seems like such a doll.

    Recently, we were at church and they were having Baptism.

    Lydia looks at me and goes, "Kecka, Kecka!!! They dunk the people in the water and then we get to CLAP!!!!"

    Ok, kid, if that is what Baptism means to you at the age of 3, we'll go with it, lol.

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  9. Oh my goodness this is so sweet! I don't have kids but I had to forward this to my fiance' because I think you guys are doing an awesome job! It may not seem like you have all the "right" answers for your daughter but by golly you guys are trying and I think you are doing well! I only hope that we can be on top of it and explain things well like you guys are doing.
    Thanks for sharing!

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  10. Wow, that does sound really complicated. But it seems like you're doing a great job walking that fine line of explaining and letting things lie. Wow, explaining communion to a kid. I don't think *I* get it!

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  11. I just frightened my toddler laughing out loud at @Carolyn's comment. Oh man. You are in trouble girl.

    Anyway... I think church/faith stuff is some of the hardest things to explain to toddlers. I'm sort of of the belief that we shouldn't necessarily give them all the details.

    This comes from my niece telling her grandfather (my FIL) that "one day you will die and they'll hang you on a cross, like Jesus." She didn't even know what death was, but was telling her grandpa that. Yikes.

    Right now? My guy is only just 2. I'm keeping it as simple as possible. For now.... interested to see what advice you get!

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  12. Just wait for "Mommy, where do babies come from?" ;)

    On Halloween Eva asked me "Is trick or treat kiss Eeba? Is trick or treat has a beard? Is trick or treat has a sleigh?"

    So 1. She thought Trick or Treat was a person, just like Eme with Christmas being a place and 2. She had it confused with Santa. Baha. Bless their sweet, innocent hearts.

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  13. My little man is 2. We haven't had too many questions so far but we just try to go with it as it comes. My thing right now is Christmas. I like that he is excited for all the commercial stuff of the holidays but I want a balance so he understands the reason behind the holiday at an early age too.

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  14. This post made me laugh and also made me think a lot about what I will say when we get there! Our Little Bug is not yet two and we are already getting the constant "what happened?" "where going" "what's this?" so I know it is coming soon.

    For another bit of laughter related to childhood confusion, when I as little I thought Christ was Jesus's last name and that they were Mary, Joseph, and Jesus Christ. LOL. My parents still talk about it!

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  15. We've already started the anatomy conversation, so yeah there's that.

    "Your bo-bo (name given by her daycare) looks different than Mommy's."

    Poor husband. He explains it for what it is though. Neither of us getting any privacy for showers or bathroom and she really is in our business. No joke.

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  16. We're all about being straightforward here, although Zoe named her lady parts her "pee-pee" {front and back} but she's quick to tell you all about "Mommy's boobies" and "Slade's boobies".

    My rule of thumb is that we're never going to lie to our kids about anything {unless it's birthdays or Christmas presents we're talking about... and then lie until you're blue in the face to keep the surprise}. It gets a little tricky with the holidays because I was raised very staunchly anti "pagan" traditions. So, no trick or treating, no Santa, no Easter egg hunts... none of that, but I will raise our kids with a mix of both. Zoe isn't yet fully understanding the concept of Jesus at all... or church, outside of playing with friends. So, we haven't had to cross that bridge yet. You're right... it's a really tricky line

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  17. Phoebe hasn't started this yet, but I'm really not feeling to worried about it when it does come. I just plan on explaining it the best I know how and she can grasp what she can for the time being. The only things I'm really concerned about are teaching proper names for body parts and that they are private. Mostly just for safety. Y'all are doing a great job. 2 year olds will be 2 year olds.

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  18. Jamie hasn't started with the 20 questions...yet. But I know it's coming. I suppose the big one will be explaining where my mom is. He did recently ask to go to DD's house and I had to tell him that she lived up in heaven with God and it was too far away to visit. That seemed to satisfy him and he didn't ask again.

    The week of her anniversary he talked about her ALOT. Usually totally out of the blue. My husband is convinced my mom visits him and while I don't know my stance on all that, sometimes the things my son comes up with all on his own regarding my mom make me a believer.

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  19. Ha. I don't have time to comment much but, just, yeah. Yeah.

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  20. I love your posts about Emeline! She's so sweet and funny...an innocent. The way a two year old gis ought to be :)

    Nathan, at four, has a hard time grasping the concept that God is everywhere and sees everything yet we can't see him. The other day he asked me if God hears it when his (Nathan's) stomach growls. He was pretty impressed when I said yes. I guess the fact that God hears our thoughts didn't impress him as much as the stomach growl :)

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  21. Really all you can do is pray for guidance. Every single time I feel like I am starting to get a good feel for this whole parenting gig, something else changes! I think your answers have been good ones. Emeline is a crazy smart little girl, that's for sure!

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  22. OMG Carolyn's had me ROLLING. These are all so funny!

    And suddenly, autism doesn't seem so scary anymore. lol.

    Honestly though, I dealt with this a lot when my brother and sister were tiny. When my little sister was about 3 or 4, we suddenly weren't allowed to say "dead" or "kill" (or any variation). So if my mom said she killed a spider, we'd hear, "Don't say kill!" Somehow she got it into her head that those were bad words. :)

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  23. You know what I think - that sometimes it's especially hard to explain things to kids that even we as adults do not fully understand.

    Yeah. I know...

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  24. this is coming up a lot in this house right now and it's so uncomfortable! when my grandma died, we told e that she no longer lived down here and that she now lived in heaven with jesus. which e can recite back to us, but how do we know that she really gets it? i guess we just have to tell it like it is and let her understand in a way that only a two year old can. currently, she thinks grandma lives in a princess castle with jesus in heaven. that works :) and sounds pretty nice. our take is that we're just going to be honest. we don't want to scare her, but i want her to know the truth.

    this part is hard. oh. and the "private parts" talk. that's our other current every day talk. parenting is fun ;)

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  25. Last week all of us came down with a cold so during our nighttime prayers, we've been praying for Jesus to heal us quickly so we can be healthy when the "baby in momma's belly" comes. A few nights ago, Emma stopped me mid prayer and said, but he's not doing it mom. We're still sick! Ugh, how do you explain all of that stuff to a 3 yr old? Parenting is no joke!!

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  26. This one was fun. Cause I was stupid and didn't think something through, and it turned into a HUGE THING.

    http://www.wranglingchaos.com/2009/12/am-i-really-really-really-gonna-die.html

    There are so many of these, where I bungled the explanation, and I had to fix it. It's not easy, ever, for anyone. You're in good company, friend.

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  27. Wow. I think you're doing a great job of explaining things! As my little is only 9 months old I haven't had to explain any hard concepts to her yet. But I did have preschoolers in my Sunday school class who lost their father in a tragic car accident. Their poor mother was having a tough time (obviously) and trying to explain death to her kids wasn't going very well. I found this book called "Water Bugs and Dragonflies" By Doris Stickney. It's a great childrens book that helps explain death and heaven to children. So I got her permission and did a lesson on death with the two kids. It was a great way of discussing death on their level. I gave the book to them to keep, but thought it might help with at least the death discussion. Keep up the good, trickey work of being a parent!

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