There was a bit of a thunder storm here on Sunday night and Aiden, who had never before seemed to notice thunder, was seriously freaked out by it. This occurred at bedtime, turning a usually simple event, and for me a joyous/anticipated/peaceful time of day, into a maelstrom of terror and tears. We did the best we could, trying to explain that the thunder was up in the sky, far away, it wasn't going to hurt him...pulling out all the tricks we could think of, including bringing in the "Special Bear" - the teddy bear made out of Buppa Charlie's fuzzy fleece- and eventually, he made it to the land of slumber.
But he has not forgotten the thunder. His pronunciation of it is "summer." It's now the first thing he talks about every morning...how loud it was, how scary it was, how it was up in the sky, how he cried...
And last night, even though there was not a hint of thunder in the atmosphere, he screamed in terror after I said Goodnight and left the room. He never cries at bedtime. I have been very spoiled, I know. After a few minutes of seeing if he would just cry himself to sleep, I went back in to talk to him. It turns out, he was of course, remembering the thunder...but this is what he said, "Scare...God." ( His use of the word scare can be interpreted "scared" "scary" or "scare." ) I don't remember equating God with the thunder in any of our earlier conversations. I didn't say that the thunder was God bowling, or God's voice, or anything. But he has been asking where Grampa ( Buppa Charlie) is a lot lately, and I always tell him that he went to see Jesus in heaven. Then he asks, "Where heaven?" and I have a hard time knowing how to answer that. How do you explain heaven to a two year old? Somehow, despite my trying to avoid the directional word, he has gotten the conventional idea that it is "UP." So perhaps he thought "Heaven/God = up. Thunder = up. God = thunder." Anyway- my impression when he said "Scare...God" was that he was scared of a mean, thundering God. Crucial moment! Impressionable, young mind alert!
Brad and I quickly did our best to explain what God is like in terms a two year old could grasp. God is like Joey... ( I felt on shaky ground comparing God to a five year old neighbor boy who wears camo and attaches a shoe box with string to the back of his bike to give his stuffed animals rides around the culdesac)because God is our friend. God is like Daddy because he's strong and protects us. God is like Grampa and Grandma because He is wise. And God is like Mama because He loves you. It seemed to help a little bit.
Transitioning to bed again was still a little struggle, but the worst was over. I loved this experience...the first time we really got a chance to communicate in words the tenderness and immensity of God's love to our son. It's easy to think, "Oh, he's two. What he thinks of God now doesn't really have a bearing on his life." And in some ways, that's true, but in another way, it is important. He is discovering the world right now and I want him to know, as early as he can, that there is a Love behind it all.
All that being said, I am trying not to dread the upcoming season of thunderstorms... I'm hoping against hope that our peaceful bedtime ritual will continue despite what the weather may bring.