“Jesus is a stinky-bottom.” Isaac giggles, a cheeky grin on his face. We stare at him, open-mouthed, across the dinner table. Only for a second, though, as soon we are laughing too. It would seem that Jesus has finally received the ultimate seal of approval. He is thoroughly part of the Bardone clan now, part of our inner-circle.
We have all been christened with this privileged title at some point in time, along with various prefixes and suffixes along the lines of “Papa-poop” or “poopy, stinky-bottom-mama” (a particularly expressive spurt of affection). I don’t know what it is that is so amusing about bodily functions, but it seems to feature heavily in life under the age of 5.
The fact that Jesus has been called a “stinky-bottom” might seem irreverent or inappropriate to some people, but to someone who understands Isaac’s world, it is a sign of deep admiration. Only a precious few have been given this title. While he is incredibly funny, goofy and rambunctious at home, outside of it and our family he can be quite shy and reserved. People who know him from school or church or out and about are always amazed at how talkative and welcoming he is when they come through our front door. He’s a bit like the King of the Castle welcoming humble peasants.
I remember how pleased my Mom was when she came to visit us at Judah’s birth, and after about day two or three she was greeted at the bottom of the stairs by a, “Stinky-bottom-granny!” before scuttling off to the kitchen. While I gasped in horror, she said, not to worry, she knew now she was accepted.
To us, it is a wonderful thing to watch our children grow more and more aware of God as a reality, an unseen, vibrant, personal force right at the centre of our family. A person’s journey to knowing God is such a personal, inexplicable thing that we could never force our children to be religious. However, we do feel that it is the most wonderful, beautiful thing in the world to know God and to know His love, and because we love our kids so much, we hope and pray fervently that they will eventually get to that place.
So, it has been so lovely watching them absorb and process faith in God – from bedtime prayers (“Please bless Bumba, Bumba, Bumba and Bumba Fred” – the Grandparents) to watching a silent film at the back of our small 6pm service on a Sunday while Simon speaks, or even down to asking God to help us find the Lego lightsaber!
Lately they have started requesting to be the ones to say the prayer at dinner. Isaac’s went something like this: “Dear God, please help us to be strong, to wrestle, to be strong and to play. Amen.” Couldn’t have said it better myself.
While I do hope that the terms of endearment in our house become a little more polite and sophisticated in the years to come, of our small number of special friends and family that are in Isaac’s circle of trust, I am pleased to say that Jesus is one.