Out of the Mouth of Babes

Author: Elizabeth Foss


By Elizabeth Foss

I've often said that children are vehicles to heaven. They teach us so much and require so much of us that in order to parent well we have no choice but to grow in virtue. Usually, this growth and the realization that we are daily being sanctified by our children is subtle. Sometimes, however, they challenge us and remind us of truths of the faith in ways so direct that we can be absolutely sure we've been touched by God.

One recent Saturday morning I got up at the crack of dawn to decorate three dozen cookies to look like soccer balls and another three dozen to look like baseballs. The house was still and I was praying as I decorated. Oh, and what lofty prayers: "Please don't let them wake up before I'm finished. Please! I have so much to do and this will be such a long day and I really need some peace. And patience. Lord give me patience..." Three-year-old Christian appeared at the top of the stairs. He was born with radar telling him exactly when I am awake and compelling him in my direction no matter what the time.

"Mommy, can I help?"

"Okay, but be very quiet or you'll wake Patrick and don't lick your fingers and put them back in the bowl."

Three minutes later, he burst into a loud rendition of "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" between licks of chocolate frosting.

"I said not to do that!" I sputtered through clenched teeth, managing to "shout" without raising my voice. The peace was shattered.

"Mommy," said my serious boy, "Jesus said, 'Mommies never yell at boys. Even if you're not yelling loud, it hurts them's feelings.' That's what He said."

He did, did He?

Two days later, I bustled around, trying to get everybody dressed and a lunch packed so that I could meet friends in the park. We all charged out the door only to discover that my husband had taken my car to work. His car has no carseats. My six-year-old took one look at my face, shrugged his shoulders, and said, "I guess God doesn't want us to go to the park. I wonder what He wants us to do here." I wonder.

One recent evening, I was dialing the phone when Christian came into my room. "Who you calling, Mommy?"

"Hi Mary, this is Elizabeth," I said into the receiver.

"Oh Mommy, I want to talk to Mary! Is Jesus there too?"

After my friend Mary and I got a good laugh and finished our call I said to Christian, "Sweetie, we can't just pick up the phone and talk to Mary and Jesus any time we want. That's not how it works. It's all a little more complicated than that."

"Oh, no Mommy. It's not complicated at all. Jesus is my friend. I can talk to Him anytime and I don't even need the phone."

Out of the mouths of babes.

This article appeared in the July 13, 1995 issue of "The Arlington Catholic Herald."

Courtesy of the "Arlington Catholic Herald" diocesan newspaper of the Arlington (VA) diocese. For subscription information, call 1-800-377-0511 or write 200 North Glebe Road, Suite 607 Arlington, VA 22203.