A few nights ago, my five-year-old son and I ate dinner with my parents and my aunt Jane. As we sat down at the table, my dad asked my son, “Bryce, would you like to say the blessing?”
Bryce said, “Actually Clifford wants to say the blessing.” For a second, I was confused (Nobody in our family is named Clifford). Then, Bryce picked up a Clifford the Big Red Dog stuffed animal and sat it on the table. Bryce put Clifford’s stuffed paws together and bowed Clifford’s stuffed head. Then, in a high-pitched-stuffed-animal voice, Bryce (I mean Clifford) began to pray.
Honestly, I can’t remember what he prayed. I was trying so hard not to laugh!
And then, I started to wonder, “Is this healthy? Should I say something to correct the situation?”
I’m still not quite sure what to think about it all. Certainly, I don’t want my son to grow up to become a college student who takes Clifford to the cafeteria in order to pray before meals!
And, I don’t want him to start thinking that he has to pray “through Clifford.” (Fortunately, he hasn’t repeated this event…. Yet).
So, at the risk of people thinking I’m losing my theological integrity, I’m seeing the “Clifford incident” as a positive sign. Why? Because in Bryce’s world, Clifford is an esteemed friend.
Even though Bryce understands that stuffed animals are just toys, I’ve noticed that he has some pretty important conversations with them. He talks to them about his friends at school, his family relationships, his favorite activities, and his dreams. I’ve even heard him talk to his stuffed animals about his mommy in Heaven.
When Bryce and I play a game of Nerf basketball in his room, Bryce lines up his stuffed animals to watch. When we watch a big game on TV, Bryce hands out stuffed animals to everyone to hold. And when its time for bed, Bryce wants me to tuck in his stuffed animals too.
You see, the fact that Bryce wanted Clifford to pray was an indicator that Bryce thinks prayer is important –important enough to include one of his best friends!
I’m not sure I need to correct him on that. In fact, maybe that’s a good lesson for all of us to learn.
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