Most mornings, the trip to school is relatively quiet, as two of the three of us are not really what you would call morning people, and the third prefers to focus on driving. But this morning, this is what we hear from the back seat.
“What do you mean?” we ask.
“Is God a ghost? Kevin says that God is a ghost.”
Hmm, some insights into what kindergarteners talk about at recess. (Oh, how we as a society underestimate their interest in their spiritual selves.) We pause. Partly to figure out how to respond. (Partly in hopes that the other parent will answer instead? Is there a right answer? It’s hard to know without knowing more about the conversation, but we don’t want him to feel self-conscious and we don’t want Kevin to feel self-conscious…. It’s probably best to not leave him hanging.)
“Well, different families believe different things. In our family, we don’t believe that God is a ghost. But I can understand why someone else might say that, as we can’t see or touch Him.”
Our six-year-old, also known as MrMan, asks a few follow-up questions but seems satisfied.
We arrive at school in time for morning meeting. MrMan joins his friends in line, we join the other parents and chat as we wait for the Pledge of Allegiance to begin. A few minutes later, I am summoned.
“Mom, I told Kevin that God isn’t a ghost.”
Yikes. Not trying to cause any issues here. “What else did we talk about in the car?”
“That different families believe different things.”
“So, it’s okay for Kevin to believe that God is a ghost and for me to believe that He isn’t.”
My work here is done. Or at least done for now, as the flag is coming out and the hands are going toward hearts and I’m really not supposed to be in the kids’ line for the pledge.
I love that, as they’re navigating through the basics of reading and math and the natural world, my son and his friends are also investigating and navigating their spiritual lives. Trying to figure out what they believe, what others believe, how it all fits together.
As I hear MrMan talk about a particular toy or tv show for the gazillionth time, it might be easy to drift into a mindset where I assume that all that matters to him is the material world. But even though spirituality is not part of the curriculum at his public school, it is apparent that he and his friends are making the space for that conversation. My role, as his mother, is to help him continue that conversation at home, give him some tools to navigate those conversations in a respectful way at school, and model for him that these are important conversations to keep having.