Why My 5 Year Old Was Crying About Food

Last night I walked into Luke and Caralyn’s room to tuck them in at bedtime. Luke lay curled in a ball turned away from me and didn’t respond when I asked if he was okay. I noticed he was crying ever so quietly. I laid down next to him and gently stroked his head asking him what was wrong.

“I’m thinking about those people that are dying” he whispered.

“What people?” I asked softly.

“The people you were talking about” he answered.

Earlier in the week, I had been looking at pictures of children in Syria and Iraq, and Luke had caught me crying at my computer. I showed him the easier images to look at, not the ones that are too horrific to describe. I gently explained that some of these children no longer had a home, and they were living in tents. “Do they have food?” he had asked. “A little, not as much as we do.” I replied. He was concerned, and while I shielded my tender five year-old from some of the gravity of the situation, I also let him bare some of it. So here he was, a few days later, crying for these dying people on the other side of the world. I remember crying for the poor as a child, and I didn’t want to take that moment of compassion away from him. Many parents might have said, “It will all be okay. Jesus will protect them.”  But God’s role in the life and death of humanity is a complex thing and the reality is many are dying daily…many of them children. So I let him do the talking.

“I’m thinking about giving up food” he said.

I let out a deep sigh and kissed his forehead.

“That is such a sweet and good response, Luke.” I whispered. “That is how Jesus would like our hearts to be. You have a good heart about this.”

I patted his chest and asked, “Would you like to pray for them?” He nodded his head and we prayed. As I left the room, Luke asked me, “Can you tell Daddy I did the right thing?” “Yes, Luke. I’ll tell him.” Being a parent is exhausting and challenging and ten times a day I wonder if I’m doing a good job. But these moments…these short, perfect, tangible moments are what fill me as a parent. I wish I could put them in a bottle and revisit them in 12 years when they are all grown, and busy, and not at all concerned about being tucked in by their mother. It is going by fast. For now, I will keep talking to them, explaining what I know about life, and God, and family.  Under it all, I will communicate how much I love them and I won’t take tucking them in for granted, because life’s best moments are found in the everyday, especially with children.

Continued prayers for the refugees in the Middle East, and especially the children.

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