In an attempt to teach Owen about gratitude and foster a relationship with God, we do bedtime prayers. Now, when I was a wee miss, my parents had me recite this little ditty:
Down I lay me down to sleep,
I pray the Lord my soul to keep.
And if I die before I wake,
I pray the Lord my soul to take.
How sweet. A four year old girl, praying that her loving Heavenly Father would prevent her from hellfire and brimstone in the event that she dies in her sleep. Maybe my parents rounded off the evening by reciting choice passages from Jonathan Edward's "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God." You've gotta start your kids off with a firm foundation. Or, at least, scare the shit out of them.
Actually, I was not scared at all, because my parents were liberal with the "God is love" stories, and I had no idea what I was reciting when I said that bedtime prayer. It was just words, fun to say in a sing-songy voice.
Even so, I'm choosing not to have Owen do this prayer. Instead, I thought, it would be fun for Owen to make up his own prayers each evening, to make them personal conversations with God. Here's how it works:
Paul and I hold his hands, or make him fold his hands. I say, "Dear Jesus, Thank you for---"
Owen then fills in the rest. Here's a typical one:
"Thank you for...trick or treating, curtains, green pillow, big teddy, sippy cups, Mommy, Daddy, running shirts, Arizona shirts, trains, windows, lights, Backyardigans book, pirate sheets, and changing table, too!"
You see, our pious, reflective son merely looks around the room and thanks God for whatever catches his eye. Except for trick or treating. Despite the fact that it is now January, trick or treating left such an impression that Owen must thank God for it every night.
Paul and I usually prompt him, "Are there any people you want to pray for?"
He has learned to respond, " Thank you for Grandma Grandpas and ALL the people who love me."
I'm not sure if Owen's version of prayer is any better than my "Down I lay me" version, but at least it makes me laugh. And think. I am grateful that Owen has sippy cups, a room of his own, fun things like pirate sheets, and most importantly, ALL the people who love him.