Explaining has become my new thing. It’s actually not new, but lazy set in the last couple of months, and instead of explaining why we can’t stay up till midnight, live at the outside pool, or throw balloons into the ceiling fan, I just started saying no. If argued with I offered a no, no, never, stop, my ears are closing! Call it living with two kids under the age of four for too long.
This week I’ve tried to explain more as kids are still human and deserve explanations. Plus, amazingly, things seem to run smoother when I explain. Even if they don’t agree, I can at least get a grudging okay, or 17 more well intentioned questions about how firm the final answer is.
That’s why, with good intentions, I told Wren before we left for Sunday School that her snack would be blueberries. When asked why she couldn’t take almond bread, I told her we want to try to take care of the needs of others and not everyone in the class can have eggs or nuts, both of which are in the almond bread. It would make them sick, and we don’t even want to take a chance they might ingest it. She understood and was 100% okay with this answer. Score for mom.
So when we made it to Sunday School and snack time rolled around, Wren announced how we don’t share our food, another lesson I wish every parent would teach their kids. It’s not because we don’t share, period; it’s because every other child I meet(including both of mine) can be seriously affected by food, and a child’s very well meant sharing can turn into another child’s nightmare. I was ready to explain why we don’t share food to the very-good-at-sharing three-year-olds who were astounded by this message. Didn’t Jesus say share? What’s up with this kid? To my dismay, Wren explained for me. She told all about how the almond bread she wasn’t allowed to bring to class would give everyone else diarrhea. She then continued with a vivid recounting of the diarrhea she had that morning. “Two times. I think it was the carrots.”
At this point, time just sort of stood still. I’m supposed to be teaching kids about the Golden Rule and the Great Commission; so far I’ve hammered in their brains that we don’t share and carrots will cause liquid poo. Zero points for mom.
To my amazement and horror, diarrhea stories started, well, flowing. Five kids jumped into this conversation as if it was not the weirdest event that’s ever occurred in Sunday School. Highlights from the conversation are below:
“I’ve had diarrhea.”
“Sometimes food gives me diarrhea.”
“I haven’t had diarrhea today.”
Wren, not wanting the last kid to feel left out: “Everyone gets diarrhea. It’s okay, don’t worry.”(I guess she wanted to assure this child that the diarrhea club wasn’t excluding members. You can join, it’ll eventually happen to you.)
The dominant question related to this incident was, “How did I raise a child so comfortable talking about crap?” Then I realized we are a family of Celiacs; we talk about it all the time. Here are some highlights from recent conversations in our house:
“Did the sweet potatoes cause weird poo last time we ate them?”
“Can you make those cookies I like, or will they cause you questionable poo?”
“Man, I am never eating two Larabars in one day again. Too many oxalates messes with my poo.”
And my personal favorite: “What would you score that poo? Are we talking definite intestinal issues or just too many raisins?”
Don’t get me started on how we rate the rankness of farts. I’d need a spreadsheet to fully explain.
As the hours pass by and I pray no one asks me to step down as Sunday School teacher, I’ve realized something: my child has confidence, and I pray it comes from the fact that she was beautifully and perfectly made by God. Plus, she has awesome friends. Not once has anyone in her Sunday School class made her feel excluded, different, or not loved. If she has a new food while they eat animal crackers, they show interest and support her. If she needs to vent her feelings about diarrhea, they jump on board and sympathize. No judgment, no eye rolling. Just a bunch of sweet kids who haven’t learned that different can be misinterpreted as target.
When I’m having a bad day, I’m going to remember our very special day in Sunday School. Three-year-old Jesus lovers accepting others, even when they eat too many carrots; that’s the kind of world I want to live in.