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Thursday, April 08, 2010

Advice, please

Thursday, April 08, 2010 By

Augusta, Ga. - Emmie and I are in the middle of a showing of "How to Train Your Dragon," when she turns to me.

"Mama?" she manages in the World's Loudest Whisper. "Where do Jesus lib?"


I'll admit it: I'm utterly unprepared for religious questions from my child - primarily because I still have so many myself. How do I explain to her that Jesus died? Or do I try to explain the concept of a soul? Or do I fall back on generally accepted but utterly inadequate cultural shorthand?

She's five, I reason. She's not looking for me to give her the nature of the universe in a compact pill with an easy-swallow coating (or maybe she is?). She believes in Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy, and that "Play Fair" and "Share" were two of the ten commandments. I think she's just looking for pieces of a puzzle that looks a lot like a map of the hierarchy of parenting. In short, what every kid wants is the location and general job description of Who's in Charge.

"Well, where do YOU think he lives?" I counter, using my well-worn technique for simultaneously deflecting a question and learning more about my daughter.

"MOOOooom..." she rolled her eyes so hard I could hear them rattle around in her skull.


"I don't know," I acquiesce. Because it's the most honest answer I can give her. And because I think kids also need to hear that phrase from their parents, as much as they need spiritual guidance.

"You DO know, mama!" she tells me. "Jesus libs in your heart."

I suppose I did assume a rather literal intent in her question, like maybe she wanted his mailing address to make sure he filled out his Census form. But questions like that throw me into a panic. What should I have done? What kinds of questions do your kids ask that stump you? What answers would you have liked to hear from your parents?

I want to guide her to feel a connection with mankind, the planet, the universe. What's the best way to do that?

Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile


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