Lessons from listening to my children never end … some are funny, some are practical and some seemingly come from heaven

I admit it: I use my kids for material.

I do my best to make note of the funny things they say so I can repeat them afterwards to an audience of doting family members and vaguely interested friends.

“We turned Henry’s car seat around this week. He spent the whole first ride yelling one-word reviews every few minutes: ‘WOW! GO! YAY!”

Thank you, I’ll be here all week.

But seriously, folks … I love listening to my kids. It’s one of the gifts of parenthood, to be able to hear things from a child’s perspective … their silliness, their accidental insights; their genuine wisdom.

It’s also a survival tactic.

Once, while my then-potty training 2-year-old daughter was taking a bath, I caught the tail end of a conversation she was having with her 4-year-old brother.

“That’s OK, Norah. Just go in the tub.”

Preventative measures followed. It pays to listen.

Preventative measures followed. It pays to listen.

Listening also leads to understanding, important with little ones who are still learning to communicate.

When my daughter was 2, she loved purple with an undying love. Anytime she spotted anything purple, she went crazy … and, naturally, claimed that object as her rightful property. Then, purple became an adjective: her snow-white teddy bear became her “purple teddy bear.”

Sometime in this stage, Father’s Day came along, and we sat down to make a card for her Daddy. I asked the kids what they wanted to say … the then-4-year-old said something nice about how he likes to play with Daddy. Norah’s message was brief and to the point:

“Purple Daddy.”

The highest honor she could bestow.

Sometimes the things they say are spot-on.

I remember trying to explain Valentine’s Day to my oldest when he was about 2. I said it was a day to be grateful for those we love.

Me: Elliot, who are some of the people we love? Mimi?

Elliot: Mimi! And Daddy!

Me: Yes, we love Daddy!

Elliot: And Norah Lee.

Me: And our Norah Lee.

Elliot: And cookie.

Another time, more recently, I tried to explain the concept of college to my daughter, now age 3, as we drove by the Texas Tech campus.  I said after you were done with preschool, which she is currently attending, you went to kindergarten. And then you went to grade school, then high school and then college.

‘That’s too many things Mom.’

“That’s too many things, Mom,” she said.

Fair point.

And then there’s the times when they cut through to the heart of the matter.

Recently, a dear friend who loves me enough to love my children, too, was paying us a visit. After playing with her for a while, Elliot, now 5, paused and looked at her thoughtfully for a moment. Then, nodding his head as if he’d made up his mind, he said,

“I really love you.”

There is something precious and pure about such words from children. They’re like a little spring of water, unpolluted by the lies, wounds and heartache that make adults afraid to say what’s true … or worse, have made them forget what is true. When I listen to my children, it helps me sort through the muck and find that little spring inside myself … to be honest and unafraid.

I want to share one more precious insight with you.

Recently, my son began asking questions about death.

He wanted to know if we could go visit my mom, who passed away almost two years ago. We’d been talking about the mansions Jesus went to prepare for us, and how He had made one for Mimi.

“Can we go see her house?” Elliot asked.

My husband and I explained that we don’t get to go see those houses until we die. After that, if we know Jesus, He will take us there, to heaven.

Elliot paused, thinking.

‘So when you die, Jesus carries you?’ ‘Yes, sweet boy. He does.’

“So when you die, Jesus carries you?” he asked.

Yes, sweet boy. He does.