Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Does Jesus need me, Mommy?

Since Zach has been about 2, we've been saying the prayer "Now I lay me" ... which ends with "and if I die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take" - at least that's the version I grew up with, so that's what I taught him (as well as the girls.)

He started asking questions a few months ago about what it meant to die ... and I didn't think he is quite ready to have this discussion, right? (he's 4!!) so I just sort of shrugged it off and said dying is when you go to Heaven. And he bought that for awhile. Then later (at prayer time) he asks the question again and I respond the same way. He said isn't Heaven where baby Sammy is (his half-brother) and I said yes, and he said so what happens when you die? I told him when you die you go to Heaven and you become an angel ... and he says no, what HAPPENS when you die? HOW do you die? He said do you run out of batteries like my V-Smile? I said well, it's kind of like that - except you can't put new batteries in like I do with your V-Smile. He goes on to ask a million questions, which I am NOT answering correctly because they open up a million other doors .... I tell him most people don't go to Heaven unless they're really old or really sick. (To which he asks why can't the doctor fix the sick people. Mr. Logical.) I explained that sometimes people get a "sick" that can't be fixed, like his "Pop-Pop" or baby Sammy and that's why they have to go to Heaven. He asked if he was going to go to Heaven ... and I said you're not going to go to Heaven until Jesus needs you. He just kept asking question after question - I finally told him to hold on and I asked Sam to go up and discuss it with him, because I obviously was confusing him more and more (I didn't realize DEATH was such a big concern at 4, and he started saying things like I'm scared to die, I don't want to die.) So .... Sam came up and basically told him the same things I did ... you'll die when Jesus needs you, it probably won't be for a long, long time because Mommy and Daddy need you now and he seemed OK with this.
Every so often he questions the prayer - he'll say what does die mean? I'll tell him the same thing - it means you go to Heaven to meet Jesus.

Well, tonight .... he got really into the "DEATH" conversation again at bedtime. He asked about dying and what Heaven was like (as if I know) and what an angel is, and what happens to people when they die (their body) ... I didn't answer that one other than to say "you get a new body in Heaven when you become an angel"....I was NOT going to get into a discussion about the body that is left behind. He said what will I look like, and I told him he'll look like whatever he wants to look like, something wonderful. And he replied, well I want to look just like me, except be real. I want to be the same color I am now. Can Jesus make me real again and zap me down from the sky? I said no, honey, it doesn't work like that... and he goes on to tell me it will be a "big problem" for him to be up in the "clouds" and he's not sure he wants to "fly like an angel". He asks every few nights if Jesus needs him "tonight" to which I reply ... NO!!!! He asked me again tonight...I said "NO, Jesus does NOT need you tonight." He said "what if I see Jesus when I go to sleep and I don't want to go with him?" (WHAT DO I SAY TO THAT...we're not overly religious people who are trained in these responses!!!) I said "tell Jesus you want to stay with your Mommy and Daddy for right now." On several occasions he's asked when he's going to "die and meet Jesus" and he's told me he's scared to die. (Ya, me too!!) Tonight he asked if he was going to die before me (what do you say to that) and then he asked if I'd miss him if he was in Heaven. OMG <-- Seriously!

So is it "normal" for a 4 year old to be asking about dying .... and worrying about it? Did I explain it wrong? Is there a better way to explain it...something kids relate to easier? I have NO idea.....any help/suggestions would be appreciated... I didn't think this would be a conversation I'd be having (on a regular basis, it seems) before the "SEX" talk! (Note: if you're going to say 'redirect' the conversation - TRUST ME ... I try that at EVERY question. He doesn't stop until he is satisfied with the answer.) Helllllp!

1 comment:

Nick&MelT said...

Hey Rach,
Yes, this is completely normal for a 4 year old. Of course he's inquisitive...he can't control any of this and the answers aren't concrete, which just leads to more questions (same for us grown-ups, right?). Anyway, there are a few good books out there that I can recommend if you'd like. We bought one last year for this same type of situation.