Tonight Noah's bedtime coincided with Mosque prayers, and the prayers are long in the month of Ramadan.
Tonight, I apologized for being mean to him, for getting impatient and telling him he wasn't fit for human company and to please leave me alone until he was. I know how that sounds. It made sense at the time.
I've come to embrace that my older child will not simply lie down and go to sleep (though my younger one does), and that my lazy solution to this (an old ipod touch) wasn't doing us any favors. So bedtime is a time to catch up, read a lot of books, pray, and recently, for me to apologize to Noah. Not in a "I suck as a mother" way, but in a "sorry, I didn't treat you as I should have at this specific time". The guilt and self-deprecation I can save for Eug, later on. Lucky Eug.
The mosque prayers are our reminder to pray. Tonight, Noah asked why they sang as they prayed, and I said I wasn't sure but I thought it was to help remember the words to the prayers and make them more beautiful for God. I explained that Muslims pray specific prayers, even as their hearts lift up the same feelings ours do with extemporaneous prayer. Deciding what to say to Noah was hard for me: having been brought up as an evangelical Christian my default is to try to assert that we have answers that others don't. But I have to trust that Jesus is big enough, interesting enough, and loving enough to be compelling to my children, if I only pray and introduce them to Him as best I can.
I suppose it should be said that he's also three, and three is a time of passion and certainty, not mysticism, so there's also something to be said for simplicity. So when Noah asked why we don't pray like Muslims and I said that we pray as though we're talking to a friend, who can talk back, but we can also try praying from memory or reading sometimes, if he likes. There are weeks we start the day with this version of book of common prayer, and Noah follows along. I want Noah to know God as someone who takes the burdens of "getting it all right" away, of doing the right thing or knowing the right answers. But I also want him to know God as a provider of really good things- concrete, physical things- a God that makes the seasons and the tides. In the rhythm of our day, I'm so grateful for the prayers that ring out from the mosque this Ramadan.