Do Pandas like Pickles? And Other Things I forgot to Ask.


My son, TJ, hovers somewhere between scary smart and just scary.  There are moments that my pride swells and I stand assured that I have a future nuclear engineer or rocket scientist on my hands.  Then, there are the moments that I shake my head and say a little pray asking God to just get him through Kindergarten.

Like the night I lay in bed listening to him in the next room.  There he lay in the dark thinking aloud: “if two plus two equals four, then two plus two plus two equals six, or two times four equals eight. . .  “”if six plus seven is thirteen, then six hundred plus seven hundred equals thirteen hundred . . . ”

Five-year-old genius, I thought as I drifted to sleep.

The next day, TJ announced that “he had figured it out.”   What?  I wondered.  Did he master the quadratic equation? Discover the meaning of life?  Did he find the cure for cancer?  “Well,”  he said, “I realized that if I don’t close my eyes, I don’t fall asleep.”

Genius?  Not so much.

So maybe not a rocket scientist, but perhaps a great philosopher. 

Like the day he turned to me and asked, “Can I believe in both God and Santa Clause?”  “Why do you ask?, I questioned.”  His response:  “I was just thinking that if you have God, then you don’t really need Santa.”

Brilliant! 

Follow that up with the day he got new shoes.  The thickness of the sole gave him a good 3/4 inch lift. 
“Yep,”  he says, “I am least five and a half in these.” 

Brilliant?  Not so much.

Okay, so maybe I don’t have a future rocket scientest nor great philosopher. But what I do have is a five-year-old who is trying to figure it all out. Truth is, on any given day, his aspirations vary from home builder to taffy puller (like the one he saw at the beach). 

Sometimes, when we are alone in the car, I take the long way home in hopes that he will cut the silence with whatever is turning his wheels.  Yesterday, after about fifteen minutes of complete quiet, TJ reaches out from the back seat:  “mom,” he whispers,” do pandas like pickles?”

The honest truth; I have no idea if pandas like pickles, I have never even thought to ask if pandas like pickles, and I would love to know what brought TJ to the point of asking if pandas like pickles.  In fact, I would love to know at what point I stopped asking those kinds of questions all together. 

Jesus told the disciples that they should have faith like a child.  I used to think that childlike faith meant blind faith.  I thought it meant just accepting what I was told because someone told me so.

Then I had children. 

 I don’t think my children have ever once accepted something I said at face value.  I hear the word why way more than I ever hear okay mom.   But I also hear a great curioustity in their voice.  Their questioning inspires faith.

Jesus wants us to have faith that inspires.  Childlike faith asks the hard questions.   To ask why does not mean that we lack faith, it means that we want faith.  Curiousity is not at war with our faith, it is what makes our faith strong. 

God wants us to go beyond just knowing that Pandas eat Bamboo.  He wants us to know that they also do not eat pickles.

I no longer hope that TJ is a Genius.  I just hope he keeps asking questions . . . I think I will take the long way home tomorrow.

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