Sunday on the way home from church I asked Ruthie what she learned in Sunday school. Questions like this about church or preschool are already getting answered with an adolescent “nothin” or “I don’t know,” so it typically takes a little prodding to get some answers out of her.
Finally I asked her about the paper snake she made, wondering what the story was behind the snake. The kids in her class usually come away with a craft of some kind that have to do with the story, and on this particular Sunday she came home with strips of paper linked together to make a “snake.”
She proceded to tell me the story of Adam and Eve, how they disobeyed God and ate the apple from the tree, and then they hid behind a bush and died.
“Oh really?” I asked. “Then what happened?”
“Then Jesus found them behind the bush and took them to the doctor.”
I suppressed my laughter in the front seat and forgot all about the snake. This is exactly why I push so hard to get answers from her: it’s highly entertaining.
Knowing the doctor part of the story was likely not part of my church’s theology, I tried to get back to the story.
“Can you tell me more about Jesus and what he did with Adam and Eve?”
After some more leading questions to get the story going again, she came up with a different ending. This time when I asked her what happened after Adam and Eve hid behind the bush she said, and I quote, “Jesus found them behind a bush and took them away to do a craft.”
Apart from the side splitting laughter, I had the opportunity to make a connection regarding her sin and disobedience and the sin and disobedience of Adam and Eve. In the second round of her story she said Adam and Eve disobeyed God and then ran away from him and were made to leave the garden. We talked about how she she sometimes runs away from me, too, when she disobeys, and how – even though I will always love her – there are consequences for being disobedient.
She really got this, and it was an electrifying moment to be a parent, to be teaching my child complicated yet important concepts in a way that she can grasp. I’m very thankful for my spiritual community, and how it teaches me volumes about being a parent who parents out of scripture.
As we neared home Ruthie broke the silence with a question.
“Mom? Why did God tell Adam and Even to not eat the apple?”
[cricket] [cricket] [cricket]
In all my life this question has never occurred to me. Growing up in the church this question was just never part of the story. The story was about Satan, and choices, and sin, and consequences, and hiding, and so forth. Never did I think to ask the question of why God would make that tree off limits in the first place.
Bryan once told me when he was a kid he overheard his dad telling another adult, “Yeah, that kid is smart. He asks questions I don’t know the answers to.” Ruthie is that same kid. She is scary smart.
Obviously, she takes after her father.