Last week I was visiting our son Lars and family in North Carolina. Woody and I both had a great weekend catching up with Lars and Kelly and 4 ½-year-old Bengt and 11-month-old Hannah. And I got to stay on through Wednesday so I could speak at Kelly’s Mom to Mom group — a wonderful treat.
I set my alarm early for that Wednesday morning so I could pray and prepare for Mom to Mom. I knew Bengt would bounce into my room plenty early to “wake up Nana” (something I always look forward to!) and I wanted to be up ahead of him.
Of course this particular morning he was even earlier than usual. As his unforgettable smile peeked around the corner at me, he paused a moment — surprised, I suspect, that I was already sitting up in bed surrounded by books and papers. He was quiet a moment and then he said, “Oh, my mommy has a journal to pray in . . . Hers has a flower on the front.”
“My mommy has a journal to pray in!” Isn’t it interesting that that was Bengt’s first assumption when he saw me sitting quietly early that morning? When I told Kelly about it later, she was surprised that he even knew about her prayer journal. Though she often reads and prays during his “rest times,” she couldn’t remember ever talking about it to him.
But four-year-olds are very observant—and so are kids of all ages. Their earliest memories are imprinted by what they observe us doing. And I believe they notice these things far earlier than we ever realize.
My mind races back to my own childhood. How vividly I remember the chair in our tiny living room where I would often find my dad on his knees when I got up in the morning. And I can still see my mom with her Bible open at our kitchen table — a Bible that was full of markings and underlinings in various colors. As a child, I remember taking note especially of all those markings. At least it wasn’t a library book!
Another thing Bengt told me about during my visit was some of the things they do when, on occasion, they can’t get to church due to sickness or scheduling issues. They have “Anderson House Church.” Bengt proudly showed me the array of instruments he uses to provide music for these worship services (drum, tambourine, castinet — and even a trumpet, which I think is his favorite).
Of course there are Bible stories. And, following in the Anderson tradition, they also act out the stories. Yesterday, Lars was telling us on the phone about their latest home church. Apparently the stories of Daniel in the lions’ den and David and Goliath were the big hits.
Laughing as we remembered some of our own adventures with the “Anderson Players,” Woody said, “I’ll bet you didn’t have a lampshade for Goliath’s helmet!" (Some of you may remember some pretty funny stories about this from Mom to Mom.)
“No,” Lars responded. “But we did have a light saber for a sword - and a stuffed chick worked pretty well as one of David’s smooth stones.”
What does all this have to do with you as a mom — or grandmom? It’s just a reminder, isn’t it, that our children are watching. They are paying attention to the rhythms and habits of our lives. They know what’s important to us.
Even the smallest and simplest traditions you begin and habits you keep can make a difference. Little hands folded in prayer on a high chair. Bible stories introduced in age-appropriate ways. Weekly time set aside for church. People you pray for, make cards for (as one elderly widow in their church told me Bengt had done for her), or bring meals to.
Your children are watching . . . What memories are they making?