My twins voted yesterday.
It was a cute little school event–their decisions based on factors such as which candidate owns a pet or has kids they can play with. At home they were proud as they showed off their “I Voted” stickers and compared them to mine.
Then out of the blue my daughter asked me, “What does it mean to kill an unborn baby?”
Apparently some of the children at school had overheard snippets of adult conversations related to election issues. They knew the phrase, but none of them knew what it meant; and, from what I gathered, they tossed around their theories on the playground in Tom Sawyer fashion. I had to pause and pray for wisdom before I answered her.
And, on that same note, I will pause here to give a disclaimer about this post: it is not political. It is simply to share a mother’s revelation of my child’s perspective on a very real part of our culture.
Back to the conversation:
Of course I bought myself time asking her what she’d heard about it. Then I refreshed her memory of how babies are made (not at the “when a man loves a woman” stage, but at the “they grow in a mommy’s tummy,” and “they stay in there until they’re strong enough to live outside” parts).
Then, as delicately as I could, I told her, “Well, when some women get babies in their tummies, they don’t…for different reasons…want them in there, so…they go to a doctor, and the doctor takes it out.”
“Like how they took out me and Bubba?” (They were a c-section delivery).
“Not exactly,” I said, “those babies aren’t strong enough to live outside. You guys were.”
She thought about that for a second. “But they’re alive inside, right Mom? So why do they take them out before they’re ready?”
Before I could answer that question she hit me with another one. “And what do they do with them once they take them out?”
I took a deep breath, wishing for the millionth time in my short stint as a parent that I had a how-to-answer-hard-questions manual. “Well…the babies aren’t strong enough,” I reminded her, “so they…don’t live.”
“They die!” She’s not one to miss the blunt facts, no matter how subtle we try to be.
“Yes,” I sighed. “They die.”
I know how her mind works. She mulls things over, puts them together, makes sense out of it all, then draws a conclusion. I waited in silence for her to process my answers to her questions. Finally, in a small voice, she asked me, “Do they bury them?”
“Who?” Her question was so unexpected that mine fell out by reflex.
“The babies, Mom,” she said.
This was something I hadn’t even thought of. It took a lot for me to hold my composure at such a poignant question.
“No, sweetheart. They don’t bury them.”
“So what do they do with them.” She stressed the “do” as a reminder that she had asked this already, and I hadn’t answered her.
“They…dispose of them.” It sounded so technical, and I was disappointed in myself for the choice of word.
“What does ‘dispose of’ mean?”
“It means to…get rid of.”
“Get rid of?” She plucked at the zippers on her backpack. “You mean throw away?”
“Yeah,” I nodded. I couldn’t have come up with anything to soften the reality of that statement if I’d tried. And, for all it’s hard harshness on the ears of a seven-year-old, it was the truth.
And she was hurt by it.
Her face tightened and I could tell she was trying not to cry, but her feelings were already too invested. It was by far one of the saddest discussions I’ve ever had with any of my children.
There was, however, a positive side.
First, I was refreshed again by the honesty of a child’s perspective when rhetoric, cunning, and justification haven’t been added to the mix. Second, and most important, was the ensuing conversation we had about Jesus and His love for the unborn, and His redemption for sins.
Now I’m curious to know if other parents have been asked questions like these about abortion, and how you answered them. Feel free to share.
And here’s a look at the three who keep me honest, reflective, and always praying…and waiting for that manual!
The photo at the very top is my daughter’s ultrasound at 16 weeks. The one just above this is of the kids visiting the gardens where my husband and I married ten years ago.