One of our goals for this Lenten season was to re-kindle our twice a day prayer routine with Gregory. Turns out, as I’ve mentioned before, he LOVES it. There are times where he goes into our room and has a mini-toddler temper tantrum if we try to leave without praying with him. If I forget in the mornings, he often goes into our room, grabs an icon, then drags me back in there.
Gregory has always had a very sensitive heart– just yesterday, in his excitement over watching the Final 4 basketball games, he threw the ball directly at the TV. Months ago, this was something he got punished for often, but he hasn’t done it since January. Immediately, Jesse and I responded with, “No!” We didn’t yell or get dramatic, we just got serious. He slowly got down onto his hands and knees, put his face into the carpet, and started crying his “sad cry”– we now know the definite difference between this and his “defiant” one. Jesse had to pick him up and hold him in order to get him to calm down. It reminded me that he’s got such a soft heart, and that we can easily crush it by being too harsh.
I’ve heard that many kids with these kinds of temperaments can also have sensitivities to other things, mostly spiritual. Part of me has always wondered why Gregory is so well behaved in church. Even on his WORST days, everyone comments on how good he is (which is good, because as his parents, we lose perspective). I remember that as a baby, church music was the only thing that would calm him down. He would be a terror all day, and the moment we walked in to church he would quiet down and either fall asleep or get really pensive. When he and Jonathan were baptized, we were worried that G would ruin the whole thing because he was definitely going through the tough “6 weeks old” stage, but instead, he was quiet nearly the entire time. He even fell asleep for his entire “churching”! “Church” was one of the first words he learned, and he excitedly says it every Sunday morning.
The week before we left Dallas, when G was 9 months old, we visited St. Seraphim’s sister church up north in Denton. Right before communion, G had a royal freak out– one of the only kicking/screaming episodes I can remember him ever having in church. The moment Jesse got to the front of the line, however, he became silent and attentive as a mouse. As if nothing prior had happened, he went to the chalice as calmly and serenely as if he’d just spent the day at a spa. Metropolitan Jonah, the one holding the cup at the time, saw the whole thing and couldn’t stop talking about it after the liturgy. It was as if G knew something important was about to happen.
I’ve also heard stories about children being able to “see” things in church that adults cannot. It’s one of the Orthodox church’s justifications for having children stay in the entire 2+ hour liturgy– perhaps we are the ones getting in the way of them worshipping correctly, instead of the other way around.
I can’t fully claim that I know why this happens, but we’ve seen something really interesting with G the last couple of times we’ve prayed together. Normally, near the end of our prayers, he waves to the icons and says, “Night-night!”. It’s always been really cute and sweet, but we’ve never made any sort of deal over it (in other words, he’s not doing it to get attention or please us, because we take it in stride and don’t draw attention to it).
Just in the past couple of days, however, he’s also started saying “night-night” at other times…to other places in the room. I kid you not (it weirds me out just to say it), but he looks over Jesse’s shoulder, says, “Night-night” to what appears to be the wall. Tonight, he looked in my direction, past me but not at me, and said it again. He was definitely looking at and talking to someone, but it definitely wasn’t me. He has done this several times, and always ends by saying goodnight to the icons, like they’re his friends.
I can’t reiterate enough– he doesn’t do this for attention, because we’ve never given him any. He doesn’t act like he’s silly or playing. He doesn’t look at us after he does it. He just does it, then goes back to praying with us.
I’m not trying to make too much out of it, but it is something I want to remember in the future, if only to make me smile (or tear up, if I happen to be pregnant).