Thursday, October 28, 2010

My daughter thinks Jesus is Soren Lorenson

Have you ever seen the adorable Disney cartoon Charlie and Lola? It's based on a series of equally adorable children's books by Lauren Child (who has authored several other fabulous-looking books; I cannot wait until Scout is old enough to start the Clarice Bean series). Well, in the book, I Am Too Absolutely Small for School, Child introduces us to Lola's imaginary friend, Soren Lorenson.

Soren Lorenson is Lola's invisible friend. Nobody knows what he looks like.

Lola and Soren Lorenson have adventures together.

Sometimes, Soren Lorenson can get Lola into trouble.

Scout is kind of in love with Charlie and Lola. She loves the books, the show, the toys, everything about them. I've always loved them, too. In fact, we first brought Snow is My Favorite and My Best and But Excuse Me That is My Book home from the library a few years ago because I thought they were so painfully cute. What quirky artwork! How fun to read in a British accent! I found them all the more adorable when I saw the show, and when I first saw Soren Lorenson, I was in LOVE. (Part of this may have stemmed from the fact that I thought his name was "So Unlonesome" because of the funny way that Lola enunciates it. What a perfect name for an imaginary friend, no? Apparently not because ... that's not his name.) Thus Charlie and Lola were born into our lives and over time have practically become members of our family. They are our go-to books at the library. We DVR their show, and unbeknownst to her, Scout is going to have a Very Charlie and Lola Christmas (complete with talking dolls and, hopefully, the entire box set of DVDs - or at least the so-cute-it-makes-me-itchy Christmas special).

Jesus has also been a big topic in our house lately, what with Scout being a big three-year-old now, who can actually sit still for long(ish) periods of time and who has a little personality and thoughts of her very own. She loves to go to Sunday school and read her little picture Bible. She even insisted I buy her some Jesus stickers at the Christian book store this summer (which we then used as potty prizes, meaning she got to stick one on her little potty every time she "went," which her father deemed "a misappropriation of the image of the Lord"). Scout loves to talk to Jesus (incidentally though, if you ask her to "pray," she will flat out refuse. Ask her to "talk to Jesus," though, and she is all about it). Half the time, her "prayers" are more like a grocery list of things she did that day, just in case He might have missed something or forgotten. Last night's dinner prayer, for instance, was, "Jesus, thanks for the grub [at her Nonna's prompting]. And thanks for soap. And for washing my hands before dinner. And ..." until someone prompted her, "What do you say when you're all done praying?"

"Oh," she said. "Thank you."

"No," I said. "The other one."

"Oh. Aaaaaaaaaaamen."

It was darling, really.

At night, now, instead of B or me praying for her, we let her do the talking with just a few prompts.

"Would you like to tell Jesus some things you are thankful for today?"

This usually results in a list of things, sometimes crazy, off-the-wall things, like "the number seven" or "pancakes" (even if we haven't eaten pancakes in days).

"Would you like to tell Jesus some of the bad things you did today and that you are sorry for doing them?"

This response usually features such classics as, "I pooped in my pants again," and "I got out of bed and made a mess during nap," followed by the cutest, "Sorry, Jesus," you have ever heard.

"Can you ask Jesus to help you to be a good girl tomorrow?"

She usually ends up saying, "You be a good girl tomorrow, Jesus?" but we all know what she means.

"Can you ask Him to help you grow up to love Him and follow Him?"

[Insert an adorably botched version of the above statement here.]

"Now what do you say when you're all done?"

"Amen, Jesus."

That's the basic format. A few nights ago, after her birthday party, she was listing AAAAAAALLL of the things she was thankful for (it was a long list; it had been a good day). Then we moved on to the, "things I could have done better today" segment. She started out with the staples, then she suddenly said, "And, Jesus, I like graham crackers." When I mentioned it later, her Nonna said, "She has got to be one of His favorites." (Sidenote: We know He doesn't play favorites. We've read the epistles.) She's just so random like that, and we all love her for it.

So there's the praying and the Bible reading and the Sunday school going, and now whenever she misbehaves we ask her how she thinks Jesus feels about her behavior, and she apologizes to Him for making Him sad. It's all very cute and (hopefully) laying the foundation for a real and lasting relationship with Him in the future.

As long as the whole So Unlonesome Soren Lorenson thing doesn't get in the way.

"Wait, what does this have to do with Soren Lorenson?" you ask (not unjustly. I feel like I'm all over the place this morning. Trying to write while two small people vie for your attention is no easy task).

See, Scout seems to think that Jesus is like Soren Lorenson. He is her imaginary friend. No one can see Him but her. Occasionally, she will point upwards and say, "Jesus is up there, Mommy. He is up in [the sky/the clouds/my ceiling/my ceiling fan/etc.]." A few moments ago, she was looking out the kitchen window, talking to Jesus, who was apparently in the driveway, telling Him how happy she was that she just had a birthday and how excited she is for His upcoming one (Sidenote: Her obsession with birthdays is really going to pay off this Christmas, I think, when we talk about how it's Jesus' birthday ... even though it's actually not, but whatever).

Sometimes I worry that she will think she made Jesus up, that He is like "Eeny" (her imaginary "best cousin and also friend"). I don't know how to make her understand the bigness and realness that is God and Jesus and His plan for humanity. I worry that she's going to think He is this imaginary person she has conjured up or that we are going to create a "false god" and make her think He is a big guilt-monger by explaining to her that she hurts His feelings when she misbehaves. I hear these stories about people who were saved at the age of four and five, and I wonder, "How can I get my kid to that place? How can I get her to understand the concepts of personal responsibility and sin and redemption at so young an age?" How do I help her to understand that Jesus is not in her ceiling fan or some magical person in the sky that she has to spend half of her life apologizing to? What do I do to keep her from blaming Jesus for the things she does wrong (like when Soren Lorenson talks Lola into misbehaving)?

No, really. That's not rhetorical. How do I do these things? Anyone with older kids have any advice on how to take them from "Jesus lives in my ceiling" to "Jesus died for my sins?" I'd love to hear what others are doing/have done to move their tiny people toward a true relationship with Christ. I feel like this is one of those areas where it might be best to use the aid of a village to raise my child. Anyone with advice, please feel free to post a comment. Even if that "advice" is, "You worry too much. You should just relax and do another post about your eyebrows. I miss those."