The dinner table with a four- and a six-year-old boy is never dull. Between Legos that get set up to “watch us eat” and the constant movement of arms, legs and mouths, we are a far cry from dignified. I will say, we have some pretty solid conversations. Every night we pass the question around the table, “What was your favorite part of the day?” When we have time, we ask a second one. Last week I asked my sons, “Do you think you want to give something up for Lent?”
I had no plans to make them do anything. The little one is just grasping the idea of “today” and “tomorrow.” I’m pretty sure 40 days of fasting is slightly over his head. The older one gets it, but I still figured he could wait another year.
So I was surprised when he said, “Yes. I want to give up popcorn.” This is big, people. Big. If I made it for him, he would eat popcorn Every. Single. Day. I make good popcorn. I was impressed and I encouraged him to give it his best shot. I looked at my four-year-old, Graham, and gave him the look of, “And you?” The conversation went a little like this:
Graham: Do I like pizza?
Me: Yes. You like pizza.
Graham: Then I’m giving up pizza.
Me: Ok. Let me ask you, what happens if we are having pizza for dinner one night. What would you eat?
Graham (without skipping a beat): Pizza.
Me: Graham, do you know what it means to give something up?
Graham (again, no beat skipped): No.
I considered grabbing onto that teaching moment, but instead we just cleared the table and let him bask in the glow of making that bold decision to sacrifice pizza unless we’re having pizza.
And per usual, this mom learned a lesson from one of her naive, wide-eyed children.
He didn’t care about the sacrifice. He didn’t even understand what it meant to give something up. What he did know is that his brother was doing it, his mom and Bonus-Dad were doing it, and he wanted in. It’s not the right reason, but it’s not wrong either.
Lent is about prayer, fasting, and giving, but it’s also about community. It’s the people you saw at the grocery store on Ash Wednesday with the smudge on their forehead, the Facebook post you commented on asking for meatless meal recipes, and the kids running amok at the Friday night Fish Fry. Lent might be about understanding our need for a Savior, but I think we can also come to a greater understanding of our need for community. It feels good to know we’re in it together — sacrificing, struggling and trudging on.
So I’m going to work on embracing community. If you see me at my church’s fish fry, say hi. I’m the one with the four-year-old eating pizza.
Copyright 2018 Abby Watts