Thursday, October 20, 2011

Toddler Theology

Today, Thorn and I prayed over a snack:

Me: Shall we pray?
Thorn: Ok!
Me: Say with me: God...
Thorn: God...
Me: Bless...
Thorn: Bless...
Me: Cookies!
Thorn: Cookies! No way! Silly God.

Thorn giggles, ascribing humor to God. "Silly God!" he repeats, wondering why I'm laughing so hard, but eager to get extra applause. Later, as I munch a few grainy, gluten-free squares with my boy, I consider Thorn's clarity of vision. Even though the first cultural constructions have already begun to box him, his mind is still amazingly unfettered. He sees nothing odd about pouring tea on his soy yogurt, calling his Latino soccer player doll "mommy," or praying for his uncle's dog's knee. It has been particularly interesting to me to see his theological development. What is God to a child?

Papa: Where is God?
Thorn: In the picture.
Papa: No...where is God?
Thorn: Oh no! Missin'.

Thorn has always seen Jesus in pictures, and the similarity in how he is portrayed allows Thorn to point out "God" whenever there's an image in his picture Bible, framed on the wall, or in Sunday school. (Amusingly enough, the similarity is less in skin color and more in the white robe and red sash.) For Thorn, God has a definite shape. God is also a person, because Thorn talks to God, and expects to be heard. How, then, can God be there when Thorn prays, but missing when he looks for a visible presence? Then again, we're talking about a kid who thinks he's invisible if he covers his eyes...

What are your own experiences with young children and God?


Addendum from the breakfast table (Thorn calls himself "Tah"):

Me: God loves Tah.
Thorn: God loves Tah so much.
Me: Where is God?
Thorn: God follow Tah home in car.
Me: From church?
Thorn: Uh huh. God see mommy from back chair.

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