Elise and I sat down alone for supper tonight. I debated over getting a book to read while we ate since it was just her and me, but am glad I decided against it as our conversation was quite enjoyable.
“I thought we were gonna have a daddy,” Elise says as she pokes at her spaghetti.
“What do you mean?” I ask, wondering if she is upset because Daddy is not eating with us tonight.
Elise merely points at her spaghetti. “Oh, you mean spaghetti,” I answer, “that is spaghetti.”
Elise just smiles, enjoying her illogical 4-year old joke. “It sounds kind of like daddy,” says Elise, “but it’s different-asgetti. Sometimes I call it walliall” (or some other ridiculous word she’s just made up).
Elise looks out the window at the neighbor’s yard dotted with white flowers. “Mom, do you see all those white flowers?” she asks.
“Yes,” I answer, “they are called Star of Bethlehems.”
Elise smiles as she realizes what this refers to. “Like in the story where Jesus is being born?”
“Yes, that’s right”
“Mom, where were Mary and Joseph when Jesus was grown up?” Elise asks.
“Well, I think they were there,” I answer. “I know Mary was there, because she was there when Jesus died on the cross.”
“Was she sad when Jesus died?”
“Yes, she was,” I answered. ” But then He came back to life.”
“And then she was happy?” responded Elise.
“Yes, that’s right.” I answered. “Elise do you remember why Jesus died on the cross?”
“So he can take our sins away,” Elise says.
“And what does that mean when he takes our sins away?”
“Then we won’t do any more sins,” Elise decides.
“Well, sometimes we still do sins Elise,” I explain, “but then Jesus can forgive us. And when we die we get to go to heaven if we believe in Jesus. If Jesus didn’t die on the cross then we would all go to hell when we die. Hell is where the people go that don’t believe in Jesus.”
I soon realize that Elise and I have never discussed hell before. “It is not a very nice place,” I add.
“Because of all the bad people?” asks Elise.
“Well, it is just not very nice and it is where Satan is,” I add. “Do you know who Satan is?”
“No,” says Elise.
“Satan is a very bad angel who does not like Jesus,” I try to explain, wondering if I’ve gotten myself in over my head.
“I wouldn’t like to go there,” says Elise. “I want to go to heaven and see my Emma. Where is the place you were talking about Mommy?”
“No one knows where it is Elise,” I tell her. “It is like heaven, we don’t know where it is, but we will see it when we die.”
“You know where heaven is,” Elise reproaches me.
“No I don’t,” I reply. “Why do you think I do?”
“It is in the ground,” Elise says, wondering how I could not know this.
“Heaven is not in the ground, Elise. Why do you think that it is in the ground?”
“Because that is where Emma is.”
“Oh, well, that is not where Emma is. Emma’s old body is in the ground because she does not need it anymore, but she went to heaven and now she has a new body. That is what happens to us when we die. This body we won’t need anymore, but we will get a new one.”
Elise seems to accept this and we discuss the possible places for hell. She sits quietly for a few moments and then pipes up. “But we won’t really die.”
“Yes, we will Elise. Everyone will die when it is time.”
“But we won’t really die. I don’t want to die.”
“Well, Elise,” I try to reassure her by grasping onto the bit of truth that she has found without even meaning to. “Well, you are right, when we die, this body dies and gets buried. But only our body dies, we go to heaven and get a new body. Does that make sense?”
“Uh-huh,” says Elise, accepting this fact quite easily. “When our new baby comes it will have an old body too.”
“Yes, it will have a body like ours, but I hope that this time it will stay with us a long time and grow bigger,” I add. I don’t want her to think that all her siblings are going to heaven anytime soon.
“Yeah,” says Elise. “And if it is a baby sister then when she gets bigger she can play with me.”
“What if it is a baby brother?” I prod.
“Well, it can still play with me,” she says convincingly. “You know Emma had yellow hair.” She is referring to Emma’s slightly blonde hair.
“Yes, it was sort of blonde.”
“But she had little hair.”
“Well all babies have a little hair when they are born, it takes a while to grow.”
“Yes,” nods Elise as if she’s known this all along. “But if we have a boy he will have brown hair.”
I smile, “Well, he could have blonde hair too.”
“Yeah,” agrees Elise. At this point Elise looks at my belly and says: “Wow, your tummy is getting really big!”
“Yes, it is,” I agree, “and you know what? When I woke up this morning the baby was jumping all around in there.” I remind Elise what that feels like because she got the privilege this afernoon to feel the baby’s movements, which were quite dramatic today.
Our conversation began to wind down as we discussed some dreams we’d had of the baby. In my dream the baby was a girl; in Elise’s dream the baby was a boy. At this point Elise announces she’s done with her “sgetti.” After some negotiating she finishes off her green beans in order to get two cookies for desert. She is now in the bathtub, and I realize how much I love my 4-year old despite her overdramatic responses to anything and everything these days, such as the tears on her face when I picked her up from AWANA last night. I was feeling sorry for her until I found out that she was crying because she didn’t want to play what everyone else was playing. But there are plenty of things to enjoy about her too, for instance the fact that we had a long talk about AWANA and joining in with the group and she seemed to respond well. Or how about shopping for shoes with her. She had an opinion on all the ones I tried on and made plenty of suggestions as well. (Sometimes it’s fun to have a girl.) Or conversations like this where we both get to share our heart and we both learn something new.