Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Conversations with Prince: Light, Dark, and Death

Prince and I played a Bible trivia game on Sunday. One of the questions seemed to have made an impact. He was supposed to fill in the blank from John 3:19 - And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were ____ [evil]. We discussed the verse and what it means and why. He seemed rather interested in trying to understand it. Then we moved on.

This morning, Prince got a chance to do some coloring. He colored some areas of the paper yellow and some areas black. Then he explained to Joy: "Satan is the dark. Jesus is yellow. We should not choose darkness; choose light. ... The darkness has power." Joy was very impressed by his grasping the metaphor.

Along similar lines, I had a very difficult conversation with him last evening. Seated at dinner, he turned to me and said, "Daddy, I hope you die."

What? WHAT? I asked him to repeat himself because my hearing is not always the best. He repeated it, very matter of factly, no anger or cuteness or anything. I sent him to his room - he had spent a good portion of the day sassing Joy and saying all sorts of unexpected, inappropriate things. After, I went in to have a chat with him about what in the world he meant.

He meant he wanted me to go to Heaven. He knew that when you die, if you're good, you go to Heaven, and he wanted me to go to Heaven. He's expressed that wish before, but usually when he's encouraging me to not be angry.

So I sat there and tried to explain to him why "Daddy, I hope you go to Heaven" is fundamentally different from "Daddy, I hope you die." It was really hard to explain to him the concept of what happens when your parent dies. I thought about a friend of mine whose dad had died while he was a teenager, little realizing it was very close to the anniversary of that day. I talked about how it would change his life if I died, or if Mommy died. It needed to sound sad, but I didn't want to frighten or worry the boy (which is hard enough to do, I'll grant, but you never know with preschoolers). Mostly I talked about the things we couldn't do together anymore, like playing Mario Donkey Kong on the DS, his current favorite activity with me.

He asked what would happen if we both died. I told him that his Uncle DeWayne and Aunt Mari would take care of him. "So if I listen to that guy..." Uncle DeWayne and Aunt Mari? "Yeah. Then I will go to Heaven too and be with you and Mommy again."

Though the things I told him we couldn't do anymore if we died made him frown, he responded every time with a beautiful child's faith that we would soon be together again, and at worst that he could still play Mario Donkey Kong with Uncle DeWayne. I told him that even though if he died as a child, he would certainly go to Heaven, Mommy and I would be very sad if he died. We would miss him. Then he looked at me with the seriousness only a child can have and said, "Daddy, if I die, you and Mommy can still play Mario Donkey Kong on the DS."

Satan is the dark. Jesus is yellow. We should not choose darkness; choose light.