Tonight, I had a very interesting conversation with my 5 almost 6 year old son. This conversation took place during our nightly "talk about our day" time, which occurs when I tuck him into bed. I cannot recall exactly how or when this little ritual started, but it probably stemmed from me seeing the following quote inscribed onto a pretty picture on the internet:
Listen earnestly to anything
your children want to tell you,
no matter what.
If you don't listen eagerly
to the little stuff when they are little,
they won't tell you the big stuff
when they are big,
because to them
all of it
has always been
- Catherine M. Wallace
While I do more than my fair share of brushing off the little stuff, this is what I try to remember every night whilst I listen to repetitive tales of Lego ships. Some nights I rush him (especially when he is clearly employing the bedtime stalling tactics that are all too familiar to most parents) and ask him to quickly regale me with only his favourite parts of the day. Other nights, I let myself get lost in the conversation.
The funny thing is, he seems to prefer listening to me talk about random things; everything from numbers (he finds the concept of infinity especially intriguing) to the stories of every scar that I have. Tonight, the topic turned to where we go when we die and whether or not Hell exists. We attend church regularly and questions such as these have come up before, so I wasn't overly surprised. I've never sugarcoated the reality of death with him and when asked if he or I will live forever, my regular response is "everyone dies" like it's not a big deal.
Our discussion covered many things and diverged into several tangents, so it is impossible for me to type every detail here in a way that would actually be enjoyable to read. I would like to share the gist of it with you because I find it interesting, especially in our current climate of intolerance. Also, I'd like to remember it and don't always have the best memory.
While I am no religious scholar, we discussed that people believe different things and that no one really knows for sure what happens to us after we die. Some people believe that good people go to Heaven and bad people go to Hell, which is not a nice place to be with lots of fire. Some people have differing theories on what Heaven is and what it means to them. Some people believe that our souls come back reincarnated as another living creature and do so until we've learned all the lessons that we're meant to learn. He thought that was pretty cool and would like to live his next life as a cheetah (we looked at the difference between cheetah and leopard spots during our "talk about our day" time the other night, determining that his slinky is indeed patterned with leopard spots). Some people believe that there is nothing after death; we just die and that's it. Some people believe that there is something after death, but are not quite sure what.
I told him that it doesn't really matter which one we believe. Whether we believe there is nothing or we believe there is something, it doesn't change how we should live our lives. Either way, we need to cherish the time that we have with our family and friends and show kindness towards others. In the end, it's all about love and kindness.
When I looked at the clock, I realized that half an hour had flown by. Way past bedtime! He asked if he could give me 5 "jump hugs" which is where I stand up and he takes flying leaps off the bed at me. The "no hands" version where I am required to keep my arms at my sides are a particular favourite of his. The whole thing usually dissolves into lots of giggles, kisses, snuggles, and hugs. I realize that as he grows older, if these talks continue (and I certainly hope that they do), the giggles and snuggles part will become fond memories. But for now, for me, in this moment they are Heaven.
Thanks for stopping by.
Thanks for stopping by.