Monday, April 11, 2011

Not Your Typical Pre-K Conversation

I mentioned a week or so ago that I had inadvertently caused Matthew a little emotional distress by bringing up that President Monson would pass away at some point and that I wanted him to pay attention so that he would remember him.  Then on Friday, we were watching The Return of the Jedi with Matthew for family movie night, and at the end after Darth Vader turned good and then almost immediately died, he began to cry again (real tears), saying, "But I don't want the good Darth Vader to die!"  Second time in a week or so that I had seen him sad about the same thing essentially, albeit concerning two very different people. :)  So obviously the gravity of death has been weighing on him more than you'd expect for a boy who is not-quite-five - as evidenced by the fact that the next day during Tangled at the dollar movie theater, he asked if Karin was going to die some day and was sad again, saying that he would miss her.

I thought that Family Home Evening tonight would be a good chance to explain what we believe about how death fits within the Plan of Salvation and how this life is not the end or the beginning of us.  We did a little activity while we created a "map" of how to return to our Heavenly Father.  It was going pretty well until we got to the death part again, and again he started to cry at the idea of us dying and not being able to see each other.  He felt better, I think, after we explained the resurrection, and assured him that people who die can see each other again (his biggest concern).  Then, he surprised me again when we talked about the judgment and degrees of glory, and he started to cry again a bit, saying that he couldn't be with us because he did bad things sometimes.  We reminded him about repentance & what it meant & why it was possible, and I think finally the whole thing started to fit together for him.

It was sort of a difficult discussion but also just one of those moments when you realize how much you love your kids and how much having an eternal family means to us (something we also discussed).  I started out trying to make this a teaching moment for him, and I think it was, but more than that it was a learning moment for us, I think, because I think on an emotional level at least he feels the need for a Savior and the Atonement every bit as acutely as I do, if not more.  It was also a good little family bonding moment for us and a chance for us to assure him that he is a great kid and that if we all help each other, we can all be together forever.

As a side note, he was also somewhat upset when we explained that someday he would have his own family and that we would be grandparents - again reminded him that we would get older and die someday.  We will have to be more careful about how we say things for a while I think. :)  He also wanted to talk a bit about the bad guys who go to the lowest kingdom of glory - he finally decided that we could be nice to them but should probably avoid them so they don't do anything to us.  I love my son. :)

Monday, April 4, 2011

Follow the Prophet

The other day I caught Isabelle, who will be 2 in a week, singing to herself out of a Primary songbook.  Of course she can't read yet, but she was doing her best to sing "Follow the Prophet."  There are a few Primary songs that every kid seems to love and know, I assumed because they are catchy.  In Isabelle's case, she has learned what she knows of the song mostly from Matthew, because he wants to sing it for every Family Home Evening and at other random times through the week.  It is probably his favorite song at this point.

Yesterday we struggled to get Matthew to sit and listen to any of General Conference.  I understand when you are not-quite-five it probably isn't the most fun thing to do, but we gave it our best shot and ended up mostly being frustrated.  Later after it was all over, I tried to explain to him that the main reason I wanted him to pay attention was that President Monson won't always be with us and that I wanted him to remember him. I probably didn't put it too well, because when it hit Matthew that President Monson would pass away at some point, he started to cry (literally) and said that he didn't want President Monson to die.  I don't remember the last time I saw him so sad.

I felt bad for making him feel bad, but I also felt good because I realized that Matthew wasn't just singing a song and that he wasn't just ignoring conference completely.  I'm not sure we give him enough credit.  He probably couldn't tell you much that President Monson said, but I believe that Matthew has felt the Spirit telling him that prophets are important and that President Monson is his prophet today.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Goodnight Kiss

Tonight Ray & EmmaLee & kids came over to watch the BYU game/disaster, and after they left, we tried to get Matthew to pick up his LEGOs. He refused & put up a bit of a fight, so we eventually just put him in bed and told him he wouldn't have LEGOs tomorrow. He was really tired by that point, so I think he was just happy to get into bed, but I was pretty frustrated. My biggest challenge as a parent right now is keeping calm in those kinds of situations, and I'm sure I reacted a bit harshly.

A little bit later, I heard a familiar "Daddy!" from his room, and I found him standing in his crib asking to get out. I told him he couldn't, and he asked for milk instead. When I brought it in, he was sitting in his crib, and as I handed it to him I told him that I loved him. He got up, gave me a kiss, and then laid back down. He basically melted away any frustration I had, and I was reminded of how much I love that little child of mine. We are told to become like little children, and tonight Matthew taught me a bit about what that means.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Great Shall Be the Peace of Thy Children

I teach youth Sunday School, and today we discussed 3 Nephi 22, where Christ quotes Isaiah to the Nephites. I'm like most in that I tend to gloss over Isaiah a bit, but as a teacher I had to try to explain why Jesus took the time to quote the Isaiah. Here's what I took away.

Near the very beginning, we are counseled (I really think this is in there for us as much as it was for the Nephites) to "enlarge the place of thy tent" and to "strengthen thy stakes." The lesson manual says that the "tent" is the church, and the stakes help keep the tent up and in place. The question is, then, what we have to do to strengthen the stake of which we're a part. What we came up with today was that we need to build up our testimonies, build up each other, and do missionary work - I'm sure there is more. I thought personally that I need to look for more opportunities to serve, be a better witness of Christ, and magnify my calling more as a home teacher.

Anwyay, I'd heard that passage before many times, but what I hadn't really paid much attention to before were the promises that come later in the chapter, which seem particularly powerful and prophetic given what we're dealing with in the world right now. Here are a few of them:
11 O thou afflicted, tossed with tempest, and not comforted! Behold, I will lay thy stones with fair colors, and lay thy foundations with sapphires.
13 And all thy children shall be taught of the Lord; and great shall be the peace of thy children.
14 In righteousness shalt thou be established; thou shalt be far from oppression for thou shalt not fear, and from terror for it shall not come near thee.
17 No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; and every tongue that shall revile against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and their righteousness is of me, saith the Lord.
It seems like right now a lot of people feel a bit "tossed with tempest." It's probably natural to feel that way, but last week we had a regional stake conference at which Boyd K. Packer spoke via satellite. He said something that has really stayed with me since. I don't have the exact quote, but essentially he said that he doesn't want our people to fear. He said that we should have faith and hope and that we can have happy family lives despite everything going on.

I think some of what's going on is cyclical, and I certainly don't buy into people thinking that Obama getting elected has anything to do with the end of, well, anything. I think there are some huge moral battles going on right now - not just the marriage issue, but a lot of things. The economic stuff will pass, but it's really the moral trials that probably won't get easier, and conflict probably won't go away anytime soon either. I worry more about the things my kids will have to deal with than what I might have to deal with now. With all of that in mind, it was good for me to read through some of those promises and realize how they are correlated to having (and building up) the church and my stake in particular.