I have a 2-year-old daughter. That one statement could be met with a variety of emotions – pity, compassion, joyful memories, painful memories, maybe even jealousy!?! It is certainly a challenging – yet exciting – age.
It was only 4 short years ago that we went through this age with my son, and I am surprised at how much I have forgotten about life with a 2-year-old around. Unfortunately, I remember this time mostly as negative. My mind focuses on the potty training, the frequent challenges with communication, whining and irrational mood swings. In reality – and even with all of these “challenges” – I am surprised to find out that I actually enjoy this age!
Yes – there are times of great trial when I wish we can just jump over the terrible 2’s, skip right through the evil 3’s, and begin the joys of age 4. But most of the time, I sincerely enjoy watching my daughter learn, experience, verbally communicate, sing and dance with no sense of embarrassment. At age 2, their little minds are learning, soaking up information all the time, and it truly is amazing to watch!
While I can begin to have somewhat deep conversations about God and faith with my 6-year-old, faith is a different thing for my daughter. She can’t understand why we pray, or sing Jesus Loves Me, or read bible stories yet – can she? But these things set a foundation, begin a routine – and I think they are critical for the development of young children in our Christian faith. (On a side note – the development of routines and repetition in our spiritual practices is just as important even when we have grown-up!)
My daughter folds her hands and joins the family in our dinner prayer. She is beginning to learn her bedtime prayer. It is written on a cross that hangs in her room which we bought for her on her baptism. It is kind of long – so I know the grandparents are having a hard time picking it up when they help put her to bed! But we know it, and she is picking up the words through repetition. When she cuddles in to bed each night, she asks to do her prayers. She may not understand all that she is saying, but these words are becoming ingrained in her mind and heart – and she knows these words are true and important for Mommy and Daddy.
“Father, thank you for creating me and surrounding me with people who love me… Jesus, may I follow your footsteps… Holy Spirit, guide me every day. AMEN”
I think about a scene from the movie Gravity. Sandra Bullock’s character has reached an absolute end – she can take no more – and wants to pray. But she says she doesn’t know how because “no one ever taught me.” My 2-year-old knows how to pray – she has already learned how she can talk to God.
I will have to admit that regardless of why we teach our kids to pray – either to build a foundation for a personal relationship with God or to simply develop family routines – it is dang cute to see my little girl, with curls in her hair and her hands folded, saying with joy “Amen!” It makes me smile – and I believe it makes God smile too!