Monday, November 12, 2007

Some people say...

It has both amazed and alarmed me througout the verbal life of my son to hear my words come out of his mouth, to hear my husband's words come out of his mouth.

Recently, Ryan has been saying, "What the heck?!" a lot as an exclamation of surprise. He picked this up from Jeff who says, simply, "What the..." It's possible that in the years BB (before Boy), Jeff actually completed the sentence with a word that does not rhyme with heck. But Jeff had dutifully modified his words, if not his exlamatory outbursts, since the boy's birth. Ryan, however, has developed a wide range of verbal and lectionary resources including chapter books, tv shows and classmates. So, recently, Ryan added "heck" to "what the" and this alarmed Jeff.

My alarm this week was to hear an interaction between Jeff and Ryan where I heard myself in a less-than-flattering way. Ryan had come downstairs while Jeff was putting him to bed to ask me to fill a water bottle with cold water. Jeff was shouting down for Ryan to come back upstairs. Ryan had not yet made his request of me, he had just made it to the door of the kitchen. Mom, he began in a gentle voice. And Jeff shouted down again. Ryan, in an impatient and louder but not quite angry voice, shouted back up that he was simply asking me for some water. He then turned immediately back to me and resumed his previous request of me in his previous quiet, gentle tone. In the same moment that his sweet tone touched my heart, it terrified me. Where had he learned to make such agile tonal transitions? And I realized I was hearing myself.

But tonight -- no really this morning, but I had to tell Ryan it was night to get him back to bed -- tonight, I was working at the computer on a sermon for school. In almost three years of seminary, I have never had much luck getting up early to work on school work because Ryan has some innate Mommy Radar that alerts his body whenever I am awake. He almost always toddles downstairs to see if he can be up with me, too. This morning, he came down wearing his glasses, which made me realize he thought 4:45 a.m. was a fine time to wake up for the day. This semester, I have begun to explain to Ryan that I try to get up early to do work while he's still asleep so that I'm not doing as much work when he's awake and we could do other things together. I persuaded him to go back upstairs while I held him in the gliding rocking chair. I told him that I was working on a sermon for school that would be about communion and that I was doing research to see what I could find out about that very first communion -- the one Jesus shared. He was quiet for a moment, and then he said:

"Some people say that first one was a gift to God from Jesus to say thanks."

I listened with earnest interest while we talked about communion as a gift to God, but what really struck me were the words he used to introduce the concept: "Some people say..."

Those are my words. Almost every time Ryan asks a question about faith or religion, where I believe there are not concrete answers or where there are differing opinions, I almost always begin my explaination with: "Some people say." This often occurs when Ryan is asking me about a concept he has learned from Sunday School or elsewhere. A couple of years ago, the conversation went like this:

Ryan: If Jesus is still alive, where does he live?
Karen: Some people say he's alive in our hearts.

More recently, the conversation went like this:

Ryan: I wish I could really see God.
Karen: Some people say we see God when we see people do good things for each other...

So now we've moved from the living Jesus and the visibility of an invisible God to the theology of the eucharist. And it's Ryan doing the explaining.

Some people say...


Jeri said...

I love it when our children reflect back our wisdom.
I know we often recognize when they reflect back our negativity but it is great to recognize the positivity they reflect back also.

It always amazes me too, how we pick up on our children's language as well. I find myself saying some things Thom says like "Oh no you didn't" which I would have never said before.

Words are wonderful...thanks for all of yours.

molly said...

I love the possibility of "Some people say..." becoming the way of invoking the voice of religious authority.

Perhaps it fits nicely with a King of All Kings who washes feet?

What fun.

Marian said...

Woah... That's cool. And hard. And deep. And something to think about.
Every time I think I'm ready for kids, I get introduced to new ideas I hadn't before imagined. Such as the idea that the parents words come out of their mouths. Woah. I really must give up cursing. Oh, but I'm holding onto "some people say"... that's a good tool.