Last night I was cuddling in bed with my five-year-old son Ax who is a very cuddly snuggly mushy guy as well as a mighty Kung-Fu warrior/superhero/rescuer. In the spirit of Thanksgiving I said, “You know what I am most grateful for?” And he, knowing the answer said, “What?”
“You and your daddy.” And then Ax said, “I am most grateful for you and daddy!” like what an amazing, happy coincidence. And then he said, looking into my eyes, his little warm body tight up against mine, “I am grateful for everything Gd does for us.” Serious.
I tried to play it cool and gave him a nose kiss and squeeze, but inside I was startled. I wondered where he’d gotten that thought from since we don’t talk about Gd a lot in this house, maybe not at all. We’re not atheists, we’re some kind of California Spiritual, a hodgepodge of Jewish, Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Human Potential Movement, Jungian, Neuroscience-based, self-help stuff, held together with curiosity and love. We really like Pema Chodron and Mother Theresa. Mike’s favorite book right now is, “Joy,” by the Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu.
Sure, we light a Menorah at Hanukkah and eat apples and honey at Jewish New Year, but it’s more to keep traditions alive than a big religious thing. Mike’s mom sends Ax Christmas presents and we’ll help a friend decorate her tree this year too. Last year when Ax asked why we couldn’t have a tree I told him it was because we were Jewish and it’s not our tradition but we could go enjoy our friends’ trees. He was satisfied with that.
I wonder where he did get that grateful to Gd idea from? I’m thinking it’s not from his hippy outdoor play-based eco-oriented preschool, although it could be from one of the kids there. Maybe from Elias, the three-year-old thug who taught Ax Kung-Fu. His hair is cut pretty short, maybe his parents are religious. Just sayin.
Anyway I’m not gonna freak out about it. I’m gonna approach with curiosity and love this whole business of my son’s spirituality. Maybe I’ll even be grateful he has a sense of some higher power at this young age. Maybe I’ll be grateful for all I can learn from him about gratitude and trust. How wonderful it must feel to truly believe in a power, a force, a Gd that’s on your side, helping you through all of it. I might even give this belief thing a whirl.