Grayson: Mom, will you pray with me?
Abby: Mommy, will you PRAY, not P-L-A-Y with me? There was some confusion one night with Abby's request, leading to my delivery of a dissertation on effects of sleep deprivation. She is seeing to it that never happens again.
For Grayson, now 7, we fold our own hands neatly, close our eyes, and chat with God silently for a few minutes. Our main focus here is to ask God to fill our minds with specific lovely things while we dream. But there's a catch. He insists we pray for each other and not ourselves. I find this fascinating. Either my boy doesn't trust me to cover myself in the right words or he has certain requests he's sure I'll omit.
Abby's another story. She likes her prayers out loud, up close, and centered around her only. Our prayer is conjoined, outspoken, and sparkly. Just like our relationship.
Dear God, thank you for these blessings we recognize and fail to recognize daily. Please allow Abby to dream of rainbows, fairy wings, cotton candy, Pandora kitty, kissing Sparrow and NOT ______________. There is always a fill-in-the-blank word she chooses with fervor like NOT SHARKS or NOT WOLVES or NOT GREEN BEANS. My favorite is "NOT SECRETS because I cannot keep a secret."
The other night I was in a hurry and ready to collapse into a pile of laundry I'd held at bay all day long. Grayson sensed my rejection but held fast to our ritual just the same. My prayer for him was officious, abrupt, and over well before his prayer for me. This gave me a few seconds to watch his small face emote all the requests being made on my behalf.
A slightly raised eyebrow.
A tiny frown lasting milliseconds.
Eyes squeezed together and pensive.
And finally, peace.
"What was that all about?" I had to ask.
"You'll see," he responded, tickled with himself.
That night I had a visit from Jimmy in my dreams. It wasn't anything spiritual, heavenly, or even magical. It was a favorite uncle hanging with his niece, talking over mundane things like wallpaper. His voice was pure Jimmy- rich, mellow, and normal.
It was an answered prayer from a little boy who has every reason to be tickled with himself.