There are those moments in parenthood where it feels like the spotlight is on you & you need to 'show up' lest you 'mess up' your children's faith big time. (I know in my heart God is bigger than my confusing answers, but it sure can feel stressful in the moment.) For me, these moments frequently come right before bedtime when my tired, but reflective children pepper me with deep questions about the world.
K is most inquisitive. I try to let her lead conversations, to let me know how deep she wants to go. I gulp sometimes at the complexity of her questions (if God is loving, why does He allow tornadoes that kill people). I want to do well with the responsibility of being her 'go to' person.
Several months ago when attempting to answer a complex question in a child-friendly way, I wrapped up my answer and searched K's face for some indication of whether or not she 'got it.' She looked back at me with those big brown eyes and said, "I'm a cat. Meow!" It was a reminder that despite the deep nature of her thinking, she is still a child. She will give me clues as to how much she is ready for and when.
The phrase became a joke that even the children in my family are in on. Lately, when they are unsure how to respond to a deep talk or situation they will giggle and say, "I am a cat. Meow!" It's our own little family code phrase, indicating that a moment has just become too awkward.
I didn't consider the implications outside our home until last night. P was standing in line for a snow cone at our friends' 4th of July celebration when M. approached. (M. is the gorgeous older sister of a child my trio's age. She is a sweet, real-life middle school Barbie doll.) She bent down to P's level and in all her beautiful-ness said, "I like your swim trunks, P."
He smiled sheepishly, looked down at the driveway, then quickly averted his eyes back up to her (over his glasses) and replied, "I'm a cat. Meow!"
She was a bit puzzled, but giggled that he was cute and charming.
I laughed for an hour.
That little phrase just solidified its place in our family's history. Meow.