Monday, April 4, 2011

What Do You Believe?

A few weeks ago, Nathan asked if Leprechauns exist. I figured this was a loaded question, as he likes to play this game with me. I asked him, "What do you believe?" He said, "I'm not sure", which was then followed by him announcing that Santa and the Easter Bunny did not exist. 

I was a little shocked, as I had managed to get him to 8 yrs old with him still having some grasp on that part of his childhood. I remember I was 8 when I found out that Santa did not come down the chimney and bring you presents. It was late on Christmas Eve, and I got up to go to the bathroom. (I was not a nighttime bathroom kid, so this was unusual, even for a big holiday) I recall my oldest sister helping my mother put presents under our tree. I was horrified, and felt betrayed and really stupid. How could I have fallen for this sadistic parental torture? I was about to wake my youngest sister up, to tell her what I had discovered, as she HAD to know what I knew. I stopped myself and said, "No, she needs to find that out for herself." I was pretty proud of myself that I didn't blab this gigantic truth to her.

Now, being the Mom, and wanting Nathan to have these same mythical creatures in his life, I have repeated the same patterns. However, now that this existential question has come into play, I've had to take a look as to how I approach having him consider what he believes and what I believe.

I told Nathan that his name means, "Gift from God." or more accurately, "God Has Given." which I completely believe is true. I had two miscarriages before Nathan was conceived.  When I finally did become pregnant with Nate, I was dubbed "high risk", as I had 2 miscarriages and severe cervical dysplasia when I was 24. I was STRONGLY urged to have ALL of my children by the time I was 30. So, at 30, and in the midst of a high risk pregnancy, I was again, strongly encouraged to get a cerclage, where they sew your cervix closed to prevent premature labor.

I said no.

I continued, "If he's coming out, he's coming out. I won't prevent him either way. I have faith in this baby."

10 days late and after 15 hours of labor plus a c-section, Nathan came into this world happy, screaming and healthy.

So, I tell him his name means, "Gift from God." He says, "God gave me to you?" I explain, "Yes, the Universe gave you to me to take care of you and love you." I don't know if he can grasp that or if he believes in it, but he certainly enjoys the concept of being considered very special.

He's asked about God, and Heaven and what happens when you die. There's that moment in your life as a parent when you have to REALLY think about what you truly believe and how you are going to convey that to your children.

I thought about all of this, and about these fairytale figures who come into our homes and how they affect us. I thought about it this morning as I walked Nathan to school. I told him he had to get his hair cut because Easter was coming.

He asked, "If I don't get my haircut, the Easter Bunny won't come?"

I said, "No, he'll still come, but I want you to look nice." It's the one time of year I can get him in a dress shirt and a tie. I revel in his dapperness.

He asked, "Do I have to believe in the Easter Bunny for him to bring me stuff?"

He was getting to the point where he felt he had to believe in something or someone in order to get the reward. But then I started to consider, why am I doing it? Was it tradition? Because you're supposed to do it as a parent? Is there a bigger lesson that I was missing?

I considered it and thought that the reason we believe in Santa and the Easter Bunny has religious undertones to it, which is true. However, since we're not strictly one religion in our house, I feel that it is teaching us moral lessons instead of specifically religious ones. 

I asked him, " you think that even if they don't exist, do you feel that they have taught you how to be a good person, and to be good to each other, and to love and respect another?"

He nodded.

I said, "Then you do believe."

He said, "So, even if I don't believe in them, but I like what they teach me, I'll still get Peeps?"  I laughed and asked, "Do you only believe to get Peeps?" He giggled at me and said, "NO! It's hard to believe in something you can't see."

I nodded, "Yes it is. It's called Faith." 

Faith is something that we have that we can't see or touch or hear. But we have it, and we hold on to it. Faith has gotten me through some very difficult and dark times as of late. Faith was my mother's name. She's been gone almost 20 years and I know she looks down on me in some way. During my show last week, I was checking myself in the mirror when a flash went across the glass and I saw my mother's face. It was hard to tell, as we look very much alike, but it was her, like she was reaching across the ether to let me know she was there. 

I want Nathan to believe in greater things, but I want him to believe in himself. That requires faith. And I have it and I will give it to him. I have faith in him. 
 In the meantime, we will continue our deep discussions about the existence of these childhood characters and how he can still get candy filled eggs.  

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