Remember when I told you about cooking with kids? How it all sounds so fine and good and full of merry memory-making but in reality it’s an all-out crazy fest of frustration? Same with getting your kids dressed. Really there are so many things like that in parenting. So many things that sound fun and enticing and just chock-full of the warm fuzzies but end up driving you to the absolute brink of sanity. And possibly just a touch past it.
Dinner-time prayer seems to be heading down that dark and fearsome path for me. It started out so innocent, so full of good intentions and high hopes. In the years before we had the boys, Jason and I had adopted a couple of practices for praying before dinner. We would either recite a meal-time prayer that we had memorized together from the Celtic Daily Prayer Book or we would sing a hymn. When we finally started to have regular family dinners again after the boys were born, we wanted to continue the tradition with them. We would sing “Oh, the Lord is Good to Me” with some silly hand motions or occasionally pray the Celtic prayer.
But now? Now it’s at least a 10 minute ordeal before we can actually start our dinner and it’s about to do me in. First Gryffin got in on the action and I’ll admit that it was oh-so-sweet and endearing to hear him attempt his first prayers. When he expressed interest in praying, we explained that it’s a time to talk with God together and give thanks for our food. Gryffin earnestly prayed that first night, giving God a short and simple list of the things he was most thankful for: “trains and train tables and train tracks and cars and trucks and motorcycles and airplanes, amen.” Amen! He forgot the food but we were off to a roaring start.
Within a month’s time, though, his sweet vehicular-themed prayers gave way to high-speed turbo prayers along the lines of,
<quick pause to gulp in some air before finishing up with a quick request for the safety of the entire world>
<one last quick gulp>
I have no idea where he got the idea to prayer specifically for Australia & Russia but pray he did, faithfully, every night for a solid two months. But his prayers were always SO fast that we barely even realized he was saying them before he was done. Jason and I eventually encouraged him to perhaps think just a tad more about what he was saying to God, to be a little more intentional with his words when he was praying. We gave him a few suggestions and he’s really gotten the hang of it now. Easy peasy, really. In the whole scheme of parenting, it felt like we had gotten off pretty light on this one. Score one for the Rusts.
But now Isaiah is in on the action. And his prayers are much more involved. Not one for speed, Isaiah takes his sweet, sweet time with his prayers. And he likes to interject with general commentary and thoughts about his prayers. The other night, he started with,
“Dear God, keep everybody safe (apparently we’re really into safety around here – we rarely even mention the food)…keep God safe…”
Looks up at us and says, “that’s silly! God is God!”
We all laugh before he eventually continues on with his loooooong list of “keep safes.”
“Make my food safe, make my milk safe, make my chair safe…”
“Make my Mama’s car safe, make my bed safe, make my house safe…”
Audible sigh from Jason.
“Make our table safe, make my shoes safe, make my bottom safe…”
Jason and I exchange a LOOK. Time to nip this in the bud.
But then Isaiah gets up out of his chair and walks s l o w l y around the table to me. He puts his little hand on my cheek, looks me in the eye and says, “Keep my mama safe…”
Then he walks all the way back around the table to Jason’s side where he proceeds to anoint him with the same sticky-handed blessing. Then on to Gryffin. And don’t forget the dog. Mr. Bates gets a blessing, too, before he leisurely returns to his chair and proudly pronounces the AMEN!
Cute, right? Yes, yes, it’s all very cute. But when you are on night THIRTEEN of said prayers and you have to keep microwaving your food because it’s cold by the time you finally take your first bite? I’m starting to think we should just keep dinner on the burner until we have finished saying the blessing. As if family dinners weren’t already a 3 ring circus without Isaiah sauntering around the table bestowing blessings on each of us like some 3-year-old Dalai Lama.
Don’t misunderstand. I’m all for teaching our boys to pray. And I’ve genuinely enjoyed walking them through the process as they learn how to listen to and talk with God together. But the last few weeks I’ve been sending up my own desperate prayers around about the time that Isaiah is asking God to keep his bottom safe. “Please, God, just let it end soon.”
And all God’s people said?