Kids are interesting little people. They are always thinking, always assessing, always making decisions in their minds about how things are. I think we forget that about them. We assume that if they aren’t talking about it, they aren’t thinking about it, but nothing could be further from the truth.
Yesterday, after hearing some news reports about Coronavirus, Emerald climbed in her bed and asked ALL of the questions she could think of that could possibly relate to it. She was worried. She wanted to know what it all meant. I explained to her that if she got the virus tomorrow it would probably be little worse than a cold. That she could understand. She has had colds. It put things into perspective for her, and she settled happily into her bed.
I made my way to Sawyer’s room to say goodnight. He smiled and told me about the plot of the book he is reading. At twelve years old, he loves to tell me about his books and his video games. He loves to make up jokes and riddles, and he always has something to talk about. We prayed and I turned off his light. He casually said, “Were you and Emerald talking about the Coronavirus?” I told him we were. He said, “I thought so,” and sort of shook his head with a smile, as if to say, Kids. They get so worked up about things.
I patted him and said, “You know it’s nothing for you to worry about, right?” He assured me that he wasn’t worried. I explained to him what I had told Emerald, that for a healthy boy like him it would probably mean nothing more than a little fever and a cough. He looked surprised.
“Oh!” he said. “I just assumed we were all going to get it, and maybe that’s when Jesus would come back.”
My first thought was just how precious it was that he was expecting to die any minute, but he was okay with it because he trusted that Jesus would take care of things. But my next thought was this: my child was lying in his bed, worried about the fact that he and everyone he knows would surely soon be succumbing to a mysterious illness that would kill us all. Yet, he hadn’t said a word to me about it.
As parents, we must realize that our children are deep thinkers. They are constantly processing what they see and hear around them, and they are trying to put it all together in their minds, like a puzzle with dozens of missing pieces. They will piece something together–the question is, how accurate is the picture they are creating in their minds, hearts, souls? If a child can invent such a frightening scenario in his heart over a few snippets of new reports he has heard here and there, how much more is he forming a spiritual worldview based on incomplete and misunderstood realities?
As I looked into that freckled face that I love so much, I wondered how many deeply flawed ideas are rolling around in his sharp little brain–ideas about who he is in Christ, about what his purpose is, about what grace and mercy really mean, about how very much he is loved and cherished by the God of the universe? Have I taken the time to teach him these things, or have I more often just assumed that he understands them because He hasn’t asked questions that would indicate otherwise?
It reminded me of the importance of having real spiritual conversations with my kids. Conversations that I initiate, not just what comes up because someone happened to ask a question. I would have never guessed that Sawyer believed Coronavirus might be the end of humankind. How many other things have I never guessed that are weighing on his heart, mind, and spirit? Just because he isn’t always asking, that doesn’t mean he doesn’t need answers.