I once said of Jake that I had taken for granted with his brothers that they were created by Michael and I – little combinations of our shared genes – but that with Jake, I was more aware of his soul. He was simply a being who needed a place, and we were the lucky ones to win him.
I’m not alone in this feeling that our children arrive to us as people meant to be anyway. Lisa Kudrow once said of her son that watching him learn was like watching someone who’d been here before but forgotten the specifics. His attitude after learning something seemed to be, “Oh, I remember this now. How droll.” I know I don’t exactly subscribe to reincarnation, but I still so get her.
Jake’s questions lately have been so big and so unrelenting. I feel like he’s the velociraptor, and my knowledge of the universe is the fence he keeps checking for weaknesses. “Is God a boy or a girl?” “But where IS God?” “When does God die?” “Do you know ALL the things?”
Kids amaze me all the time. I’ll never forget when I was watching a movie on television, Drew asked me what it was about, and I gave him the basic premise – guy gets electrocuted and suddenly can hear women’s thoughts. “Yeah,” Drew said, “But what goes wrong in the movie? Cuz something always goes wrong.” And I was floored, because I really didn’t catch onto this all-important storytelling gimmick until I started actually studying the craft of storytelling.
And then a John story. I watched twitter and facebook all day yesterday as some people shouted God Bless America and others voiced sentiment similar to a memorable, post 9/11 Toby Keith song, and still others challenged us not to rejoice in the death of any human, least of all one for whose soul they held such little hope. John came home from school, not having heard the news until then, and to accompany the coverage I was watching I explained who Osama bin Laden was and his role in the 9/11 attack, and that now our Navy Seals had found and killed him. John responded by pumping his fist, “Yes!” he said. And then immediately following, “I mean…not ‘Yes‘.” Without anyone quoting scripture at him, he seemed to intuitively understand that death is serious, and there’s a conflict of emotions to follow such a powerful event.
I’m in awe of them. I’m challenged to ask bigger questions and think bigger thoughts. It’s a common joke, that why phase kids go through, but whatever happened to that? I’m going to start asking it more, checking the fences around my life for weaknesses, making sure the convictions in it all hold up on the other side. And I’m definitely not going to be afraid to tell Jake, “I don’t know. I’ve always wondered that too. Isn’t it a wonderful mystery to consider?”