"Ellllmooo! Elllllmoo!" is something I hear a lot around here. My 15 month old, Silas, likes to say Elmo's name in a slow sing-songy way. My oldest, Isaac, used to call him "Melmo." He's a beloved character in our home and Isaac still sleeps with a little stuffed version of him. Mickey Mouse is another popular guy and we've got Mickey Mouse ears, a dancing Mickey, multiple dvd's, stuffed animals and t-shirts to prove it. Thomas the train has also found a dear place in the hearts of my two boys. I can't tell you how many times THIS WEEK I've stepped on one left out after a morning of imaginative play. Our home has become "Sodor Island" and we can find the little trains in every nook and cranny.
And then there's Jesus.
When my oldest was about 18 months old I began to take more seriously my responsibility to teach him about his Creator and Savior. He could point him out in his picture Bible and would even frequently repeat his name when we talked about him, but despite my best, preschool friendly reading voice, full of enthusiasm and expression, I could barely get him to listen to a whole story.
I was disappointed, frustrated and felt like a little bit of a failure as a Christian mother.
Part of me wanted to blame it on someone else. You know, the infamous "THEM." In this case we'll call THEM the Christian toy industry. Why can't they make better age appropriate things for my child? I find it annoying that the only toddler friendly Bible board books are on Noah's ark.
"Maybe if Isaac could play with his Bible stories the way he plays with his Elmo books, he'd like them better," I think to myself.
THEY should make some books like that.
"Maybe if their videos weren't so stinkin' cheaply made and boring, he'd request those every once in a while."
THEY should work on that.
"Of all the 'Christian' junk marketed towards children, why, oh why isn't there anything that can actually help me do a better job of conveying who God is in a way that a one and a half year old can understand?"
THEY definitely need to get going on that.
Maybe some believe that my boys (2 1/2 and 16 months) are too young to start learning the truths of God's Word. I've always been a firm believer that kids can understand way more than we give them credit for. So, I began on a journey to make sure that Jesus took top priority in this house.
Now, lest you think I'm trying to advocate that the Bible needs "help" to be interesting, you misunderstand my point. I know that on some level I'm not going to be able to make every biblical lesson I teach my children "kid-friendly." I know that for YEARS people have just used the Bible and nothing else to do a great job of teaching their children about him. I hope to not be adding to the idea that everything has to be made bigger and better. All I know is, there are a lot of things already pulling for my young boys' attention. I just want Jesus to outrank Elmo and Mickey Mouse in this house and I (not THEM) need to get going on that!
Please feel free to comment with any ideas that you have or some things that you've tried with your own kids. I'm all ears!