A friend just posted on her Facebook a conversation with her almost 3 year old daughter. It went like this -
Kid: What does god mean?
Kid: If I wear my purple tights will I look like a dancer?
… I guess I passed lesson one on spirituality 101.
I love this exchange. It really gets to the heart of kids. They have ideas, they want to share ideas, and they want simple answers.
In the Passover seder we talk about the four children and how we respond to their questions. Within the responses we say, “It is because of what G-d did for me when I left Egypt.” We tell the children what our connection is, what G-d did for me. This opens the door to let the child’s beautiful imagination construct the image that they need of G-d. This is why my friend’s answer worked. To her, G-d = love. Love is a concept the little girl understands in her little girl mind. She could think it means hugs or bedtime stories or pancakes on Sunday but every time she thinks of these things, she will think about G-d… until the next distraction… like her purple tights and looking like a dancer.
Another friend, with several little girls under the age of 10 was telling me the other day that #4, the 2 1/2 year old, often comes up to her and says, “Now mommy, don’t laugh” or she will walk up to mom, look at her, look over her own shoulder, sigh and walk away. As if it would be too difficult to explain to an adult her thoughts. Kids want the answers, they want you to take them seriously but don’t get too caught up in the details. Tell them it’s because of how you perceive it and let them explore it.
And sometimes, we have to realize that they are just so much smarter than us in their simplicity and respect that.
I think this quote sums it up so well -
“Grown-ups never understand anything for themselves, and it is tiresome
for children to be always and forever explaining things to them.”
- Antoine de Saint-Exupery, “The Little Prince”, 1943