The weather has been unseasonably hot and dry here in Wellington. Our lawns are parched and our laundry is finally up-to-date (well, not folded and neatly put away in the cupboard, but clean, at least).
One afternoon last week, I was preparing a smoothie for my boys and I when 3-year-old Thomas came into the kitchen wielding my floor mop. Too long for him to manage, he knocked just about every wall and cabinet on his way through.
“I’m just going outside to clean the grass. The sun has made it dirty”, he explained to me.
It took me a moment to understand what he meant. He had figured out that the sun was responsible for changing our lawn from fresh & green to dry & brown, but he thought that the brown colour could simply be wiped off like dirt to make the grass green again.
“Good idea”, I said, trying not to think about the fact that my mop was brand new, unused, and that, after this, I’d likely never be able to use it on my floors.
I let Thomas take the mop with him to clean the grass and find out for himself that mopping wouldn’t restore its colour. I wanted him to explore and discover for himself. Besides, if he was busy outside mopping the grass, that would give me a few more minute’s peace on this stinking hot day. I might even get to sit down with my smoothie and book for five minutes.
Later, as I stood at the window, watching Thomas clean the lawn, I realised that this is how he will learn about things of a spiritual nature also – through the experiences Life naturally gives him and his own curiosity.
There’s so much I want my boys to know about the way Life works. As I’ve understood more myself, I have had a lot more peace, joy and love in my life and I want the same for them. My brain thinks that I have to be especially explicit when it comes to teaching them about spirituality because it’s intangible, not obvious enough. Sometimes I kind of panic that I’ll forget to tell my boys something important or run out of time to teach them everything they need to know (the years really do fly).
But spirituality is to be experienced, not explained. Our children will learn a lot about it on their own. Even by allowing them to hold on to their misunderstandings until they discover truth for themselves, we support their learning.
Perhaps one of the most helpful things we can do as parents is to reflect with our children on their experiences after allowing them the space to learn in their own way. Just as we do for other kinds of learning – like why the grass changes colour in the sun.
When I found my mop discarded on the front lawn, I asked Thomas about his cleaning efforts.
“The sun has burned-id the grass so it’s still brown. But it’s clean!” he said with satisfaction.
He had figured it out. Or perhaps his brother put him right when he went outside to kick his ball around to find the intriguing sight of Thomas mopping the grass. I can just imagine how that conversation might’ve gone.
If, when he’d come into the kitchen with my (clean) mop, I had told Thomas he was wasting his time and mopping the grass wouldn’t make it green again, his learning would’ve been far less memorable – and he wouldn’t have had so much fun.
Thinking about it, I don’t think it’s even our job as parents to teach our children everything there is to know about spirituality. Is it even possible for just one or two people to do that? Aren’t we still learning so much for ourselves? Perhaps our main responsibility is to make our children aware that life is essentially a spiritual experience and then to give them the space to know it for themselves.
Much love to you and your little souls,
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