By Jason F. Wright
One year ago, I met with a handful of kindergarten kids -- including one of my own -- and asked them to share what they knew, felt and wondered about God. Their answers displayed a sense of spiritual maturity beyond their years, and the experience reminded me that not long ago they didn't have to simply wonder about God -- they lived with him.
Last week, I decided to bring Molly, Ava, Nathan, Jordan, Michael, Dara and Koleson together again for another discussion. Like last year, I did not tip the kids or their parents off on the topic.
One on one, with my camera rolling, we talked about Mother's Day and their feelings toward their moms. With no time to prep or ponder, their answers were both innocent and revealing. Some were universal, but other responses were much harder than I imagined to group and tie together.
First, I wondered how many would instantly recall that the big day was approaching. "Is there a holiday coming up on Sunday?" All knew that it was, of course, Mother's Day.
"Do you love your mother?"
They all smiled big and answered with the obvious, "Yes!"
"And why do you love her?"
Nathan, whose mother is a teacher, said he knows his mother loves him because she lets him visit her classroom before school. She's "very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very nice."
Nathan's mom isn't alone. I noted that every single child used the word "nice" to describe his or her mother. Most used the description more than once.
Molly's eyes lit up at the thought of her mother's food and willingness to take the family lots of places. "She's a really good mom and I want her to know that I love her." Molly also took time to explain how her mother shows love by letting her play with a neighbor.
When I asked why Eva why she thought her mother was so nice, she started with ice cream and ended by telling me that her mother says, "I love you," a lot. If her mother ever wonders whether Eva is listening, wonder no more.
Michael was eager to talk about a recent trip to Disney World and how his mother's willingness to spend her money on the family was a sign of love. He also wanted me to know she'd spent some of his dad's money, too. Before he signed off, he grinned and said, "She's sometimes goofy." It's not clear whether he meant the character or the adjective, but I laughed anyway.
Jordan, who was much more quiet a year ago during our discussion about God and heaven, told a long and winding story about a missing sock. His mother's heroic efforts to locate the sock were a message of love. He also spoke tenderly about his mother buying Band-Aids when he and his brother hurt their fingers in a heavy door. He seemed to hint that mom buys a lot of Band-Aids.
Dara, our resident redhead with matching firecracker personality, talked about how much she likes her mother's trickiness. "She pulled me and my brother in the tub once. With our clothes on!" She also spoke of a circus trip that nearly didn't happen, but that might have been saved by love - and some trickery.
My last interview was with Koleson, my own first-grader, conducted a few days later because he was sick when I met with the rest of the group. Like the others, he was in the dark until the interview began. Koleson described the many things his mom does for him everyday from helping him get ready for school to laying beside him at bedtime until he drifts off.
About midway through our discussion, when I pressed him to be more specific with one particular answer, he began to softly cry. When I asked why he loved his mom, he said through tears, "Because she loves me, in every single way."
Finally, in that moment, I found the thread that strings together my first-grade friends. Each, with very different moms and very different personalities, understands that Mother's Day is a reflection of their two-way love. So why is describing their mothers' love so difficult? Because it's all encompassing.
It's larger than life.
Indeed, they love them, in every single way.
Jason F. Wright is a New York Times best-selling author of 10 books, including "Christmas Jars," "The Wednesday Letters" and "The 13th Day of Christmas." He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or jasonfwright.com.