On any given day, any single one of my six children will ask me upwards of fifty questions. Chase can't even talk and he asks me questions. He points, screams, widens his blue eyes to the size of teacup saucers, sheds tears and flails his arms. This is roughly translated as, "Mother Dearest, may I please have some raisins?"
One of the greatest weapons in any parent's arsenal is that of deflection. Of the fifty times six (no, I will not do the math and you can't make me) questions that I get asked daily, I manage to avoid at least seventy-five percent merely by changing the subject. "Oh you want to know why caterpillars don't wear diapers? Well, would you like some chocolate chips?", "Do seagulls prefer salmon or tuna? Hey, look, there's a ball over there!" It works people. I'm telling you. Then I manage to dodge another five percent by stalling. "Um, you'll have to ask your dad.", "We should look that up...later."
Those methods are great for some questions and honestly, unless you want to spend your E-N-T-I-R-E life describing in grotesque detail, the eating habits of the Red Throated Pipit, I highly suggest you use them whenever appropriate.
But every once in a while, there come those questions, the ones that break your heart, the ones that make you question whether you are really cut out for raising children at all, the ones you wish with all your hear that you could avoid. These are also typically the ones that you know in your heart that you cannot. Oh the devilish irony of it all.
I got one of those questions today.
We had just come home from church. My kids had already gotten their play clothes on before I'd even gotten my shoes off...in fact, they are still on, that's how important this post is to me. I knew I needed to write it down NOW. I digress. I was chopping up some cucumbers for lunch when my nine-year-old walked in and casually asked if we could watch "The Prince of Egypt" after lunch. I replied that it would be fine. He then said that they had learned about the story of Moses in his primary class that day. I told him that was nice and kept chopping cucumbers. Then he said something that shattered my heart into a million tiny pieces.
"Mom, it's so sad that the pharaoh had all those babies killed. I am so glad that those things can't happen anymore."
And this was that moment. That moment that I had to make a grown up choice. I had to decide whether or not I should tell my child the truth. I could easily have avoided it. I could have smiled, chopped my cucumbers, told him to go turn on the movie and I could have spared him any additional sadness. Because how do you tell your child that that does, indeed, still happen? I chose my words carefully.
"Well buddy, unfortunately, those things have happened throughout history and sometimes still happen today."
His brow pulled together a little but his precious heart was still intact.
"Well, in like Egypt and stuff maybe, but never in the United States, right?"
My heart broke all over again. Because I knew we had to have the conversation that I wish I never had to have with my children, the conversation about abortion.
I will not even attempt to convey the heartache felt on both sides of the conversation save to tell you that when you physically and emotionally witness a precious, innocent part of your child being changed, even when you know that change is necessary, it is something you will not easily forget.
But what happens if we don't do it? What happens if we ignore the issue? What if we don't tell our children about Moses, about the holocaust, about war, about famine, about the thousands of babies who are killed every day, all over the world, in our country, right down the street? If we don't talk to our children, what will ever change?
I am reminded of a scene in "Pride and Prejudice" where the heroine is mourning over an unfortunate situation where her younger sister is deceived by a cunning young man. She laments that it all may have been avoided, if she had only been honest with her sisters.
How much of the evil in this world could be avoided if we would merely be honest with our children? If we sweep everything under the rug, is the floor ever really clean?
I am not saying that we all need to rally our kids around the dinner table and start talking about abortion. I am, however, suggesting that we prayerfully and thoughtfully consider how to approach this topic with each of our children, individually. Not just our children, but our siblings, our neighbors, our co-workers.
A popular Dr. Seuss quote, which also happens to be one of my favorites, says: "Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing's going to get better. It's not."
So this is me saying, I care. I care wholly and awfully and deeply. I want to see a better future for my children. I want to believe that if we have these conversations with our children, maybe they won't have to have them with theirs. I want them to learn from our mistakes and to fill the world with their goodness and their compassionate hearts.