Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Child Grills Heathen

"Why does Gid go to Hebrew school?" The Mayor asked as we drove to his hand therapy appointment.


"Well... uh... to learn about his faith," I said.


"Why don't I go to Hebrew school?"


"Because Gid is Jewish and you are Catholic. When The Rooster turns three we'll start going to church so you can learn about being Catholic."


"Are you Catholic, Mommy?"


"Well... no, but your Dad is and so... you are too."

[Because Dad said so.]

"What will I do at Catholic school?"

[Eat donuts!]

"You'll learn about God, I guess."

"Where does God live?"


"Up in the sky... and... all over the place, everywhere. From the highest part of the sky right down to the inside of your body.

[Who do I think I am having this conversation at all?]

"How can God be everywhere in the sky and in my body, Mommy?"

[Do I look like a
freakin' theologian?]

"Uh... he can live everywhere because God is... um... he is... uh...God is love."

[Aw, yeaaaah! Now I'm on a ROLL!]

"Mama, what is love?"

[Doh!]

"You know that happy feeling you get about Mommy and Daddy and then you say I love you?"

[Like once every eleventy billion years.]

"Uh-huh."


"That feeling is called love and if you take all your love and add it to all the other love in the world, that is God."

[Oh, how the brain sweats!]

The Mayor looked out the window and made no further inquiries of me, Mother Theologian.

[Go 'head, ask me all about faux-theology.]


How did I do for a faker?

Did I break any rules?

Blaspheme?

[I am on high alert for signs of fire and brimstone and errant thunder bolts.]

68 comments:

pgoodness said...

love it. as a fellow heathen, it sounds perfect to me!

kristen said...

I'm so borrowing your God is love and how you explained it, it's brilliant, says this heathen who masquerades as a Jew.

Jennifer said...

I think you did an awesome job!
Taking notes...
There's a book called "Parenting Beyond Belief: On Raising Ethical, Caring Kids Without Religion"
by Dale McGowan that sounds interesting. Have you heard of it?

LadyBugCrossing said...

You did just fine.

Julie Pippert said...

Sounds good to me! Because it's so much more complex to us in our heads, it's hard to bring it down to their level, and it feels hard to balance that line between oversimplifying and sort of "lying" and making it something they grasp. But I feel that way about almost everything the kids ask me LOL.

Beck said...

I think you did a very good job. My husband herds all of the religious questions my way, like I know ANYTHING.

Paige said...

I suppose you did fine.

Of course I say that, coming from a household where my spawn says "Oh, look at the pretty castle!!!" anytime we pass by a church.

jeanie said...

ha ha - I am both praying for your souls (and mine) and praying that God will field any tricky theology questions!

Annie said...

Sounds like you did pretty good! It's very hard to answer these questions in a way that satisfies the mind of a 3 year old. I'm trying on a daily basis!

yummysushipajamas said...

Aw, I love this! I think you did great!

Mahala said...

I think you should write a book on the subject. It will be a roaring success!

Circus Kelli said...

This sounds a lot like a conversation I'd have with my kids... 'cept, your answers are WAY better.

Sister Honey Bunch said...

God IS love. 'Nuff said.

Sadie said...

Sounds good to me. Then again, I'm a heathen, too.

WILLIAM said...

It sounded good to me.

But then you can explain to him this part of the bible/ Deuteronomy

18 If a man has a stubborn and rebellious son who does not obey his father and mother and will not listen to them when they discipline him, 19 his father and mother shall take hold of him and bring him to the elders at the gate of his town. 20 They shall say to the elders, "This son of ours is stubborn and rebellious. He will not obey us. He is a profligate and a drunkard." 21 Then all the men of his town shall stone him to death. You must purge the evil from among you. All Israel will hear of it and be afraid.

I think he will like that.

Mrs. Chicken said...

You did a lot better than I did when The Poo asked me when she would see God. And we go to church every week. But like you, it is mostly because of Mr. C. It takes all my patience to keep one dancing, singing girl quiet for 45 minutes.

I think you hit the nail on the head with your explanation, Jess.

Ann M. said...

Even if you were a theologian, it'd probably be hard to explain God to a child. It is a weird concept to have to explain to ANYBODY.

I think you did a great job in making it personal to him and explaining it as part of a bigger picture. Even though I'm about half heathen, I don't think you'll have to dodge any lightning bolts :)

Sayre said...

This sounds a lot like the explanation I gave my son. It was just enough to make him examine his own feelings about God - and he's come up with some pretty interesting ideas all on his own.

You did good, Mother Theologian.

The Super Bongo said...

But, are you getting "egged" by religous types? I got ANOTHER egg in my yard this morning.

Asia'h Epperson said...

Awesome job! I think you did very well. I would love to do the same in future with my kids.

Jenifer said...

You done good! I think it was simple enough for him to understand and completely in keeping with all ideas of faith.

Amy said...

I'm Catholic (a happy one!) and I think you're doing great.

Mrs. Schmitty said...

Perfection!

kittenpie said...

Actually... pretty well, but then I was pretty much raised by godless hippies, so what do I know? My version would be more like a very generalized rundown on some of the different things people believe about god. When she asks what I believe, I'll be in deep doo-doo.

Shirley said...

Sometimes it's the simplest questions that are the hardest to answer.

Looks like you are doing ok.

Lisa Milton said...

Perfecto! Not a one of us knows how to talk about this stuff.

furiousBall said...

I think Jeff Tweedy said it best...

"Theologians
They don't know nothing
About my soul"

we_be_toys said...

whew! That was close! so how come we don't have Heathen School? Maybe we should.

Jan said...

You get my vote. Great job.

Above Average Joe said...

You had to have gone to church this past Sunday, didnt you.

Seriously, you dont have to be a theo-whatever to teach him about God & love. Just a good mom.

And you got that down pat.

Velma said...

I used a very similar tack with my daughter (in the sky, in you, in the birds and rocks and trees) but for some reason, she got fixated on God being in trees.

One particular tree, in fact, at the side of our driveway. She decided God lived in that tree, and it kind of creeped her out.

Which was NOT what I was going for - being creeped out by God probably isn't such a great start, huh?

Rock the Cradle said...

Here's to making it up as you go along!

Mamma said...

Sounded good to me, but I wouldn't stand too close to either one of us for fear of lightening.

All Things BD said...

I think you did great. I'm sweating these questions and I go to church on a regular basis.

My five year old asked me WHY God made people, and I was totally stumped. Not to mention she asks this from an adjacent stall in a very crowded bathroom, and I feel THE EYES OF TEXAS UPON ME at that very moment.

I used the age old trick of asking why SHE thought God did, and she said He was lonely. Okay, sounds good to me!

Mary Beth said...

Well, you put it in words that I could understand so it worked for me. There obviously is a part of a mother's brain that turns on when conversations like these begin because you guys come up with the greatest answers!

foop said...

Funny, we're having the same (un)coversation about death,dying and heaven.

"Well, honey, SOME people think that... (sound of furious pan-theological tap dancing)"

witchypoo said...

You can never go wrong with God is love.

Little Monkies said...

My Monkey and I were singing along to "I've Got Peace Like a River" and after a particularly robust "sooooooul!", Monkey looked at me and said "Mama, what's a SOUL?"

(pause. pause.)

I just told him that the sould was the thing in him that made him special in his own way, and the part that allowed people to be very different from one another but to love each other anyway.

Yes, from a recovering Catholic, avowed Athiest. But it worked.

This stuff is tricky, tricky I say!

flutter said...

I'll just be standing over here.....

Mac and Cheese said...

You done good! I love reading posts like this so I have my own ammo for when my kids start asking these questions.

They serve donuts at Catholic school??? I'm converting.

Mimi aka pz5wjj said...

Great job!

My son also has a
Jewish friend and that was interesting at Christmas time! Thankfully, with Easter just gone I didn't have to explain why Jews don't celebrate Easter -- but I guess I could have done the Passover thing had he asked...

Aimee Greeblemonkey said...

I think you rocked it.

I call myself agnostic (or as a friend recently called me "agnosticish") but really I feel like I am spiritual, just not religious. And that sure is hard to translate to a 5 year old kid.

Shannon said...

I just wrote this great post - and it was eaten. Drat! In short, have you ever checked into Unitarian Universalist? Main tenets: love each other, love Earth, give back, accept the beliefs of others. You can go there in jeans and flipflops and you won't be out of place. You could go there in drag and also not be out of place. Members: former Catholics (in our church, this inlcudes our minister - a former priest), Presbyterians, Baptists, Methodists, some Pagans, Jews, and Wiccans and GOd only knows what else. Lots of fun and pretty much like being in your own living room with a bunch of really neat people. Our church (if you want to call it that) is chemical free, just put in solar panels, has an organic garden, and collects money for wells in third world countries - among other things - and is quite active politically and environmentally in our community. My husband and I - long non-churchgoers - love it.

Fairly Odd Mother said...

You got off easy--mine always then say, "Well, what do YOU believe?" Ack.

You did awesome though!

Candygirlflies said...

"That feeling is called love and if you take all your love and add it to all the other love in the world, that is God."

That?

Was perfect.

xoxo CGF

Jenny, the Bloggess said...

I think you sounded great. Then again, I'm going to hell and haven't been to church in years so maybe you should ask your husband.

Angella said...

As one who follows Jesus (and God!), you done good.

God IS love. Agape (Greek, with an accent, not as in an open mouth).

Andria said...

Love it!

Traceytreasure said...

You are so great with your kids. Mine are older so when they ask me a tough question I tell them to Google it. If they can't find the answer there I tell them to try Wikipedia. God is Love. You are right! I might Google God just for fun! Great post!

Amanda said...

And here I was struggling with the Easter Bunny scenario.

Joie said...

As an Episcopal priest I think you are right on!!!! One of my favorites priests and mentors always says, "We are made by love for the purpose of love." (He's from the Atlanta area, too). Hey, if the Catholic thing doesn't work out, come on over. We aren't so different in feel (the service is just about the same, we pray to the saints if we want, even have confession if it strikes you) and I could see you appreciating the theology and social justice ministries. In Atlanta there are some great Episcopal Churches but we are so diverse that you could hate one place and love the other. Not trying to proselytize but just advertise a little.

Omaha Mama said...

I'm not sure if I posted it or not, but my B asked me "what is God?" at the ripe old age of 2. I had no idea of what to say, I believe and I pray, but had no clue what to say.

So what did I say? God is everything. God is love.

What else is there to say?
I think you did great.

Grim Reality Girl said...

You are wonderful in the way you talk to you your kids (okay, in other ways too!). It is so hard.

I'm Catholic and I feel like I've done a terrible job helping my children grow in faith. I believe in my heart but don't always attend. I'm happier when I attend, but sometimes I just don't (like if my favorite priest is assigned to another parish and the new guy isn't as good). I need to work on this -- thanks for the reminder. You are a great mom. NPR would be proud of you -- they did a thing on religion and how it makes people happier. Even if you don't buy in... it is nice that you leave the door open for the kids.

Off to feel guilty about something ;-)!

Biddy said...

you totally rocked that conversation!

Redneck Mommy said...

You did fabulous.

Much better than I did by telling the kids the first time they asked about God that he's the big puppet master who lives in the clouds.

They're still looking for the puppets.

BlondeMomBlog (Jamie) said...

I just want to chime in and say I love the title of this post. ;)

When your kiddo makes your brain sweat and you don't back down, you've done good mama. You've done good.

Love your explanations.

Loralee Choate said...

My children love to lecture their heathen mother, too.

Sigh.

the mama bird diaries said...

You did great!

I think I'm going to have this same discussion when my daughter goes to Hebrew School some day.

I'm referring all questions to Jewish dad who's insisting on Hebrew school.

Lotta said...

I give you a big Lutheran thumbs up. But I believe there is one one God and many paths to "him". Be it worshiping the wind in the trees, or counting your rosary beads.

karrie said...

I think you handled this very well, but I'm an atheist, so YMMV.

Chicky Chicky Baby said...

I'm going to hell so you don't want help from me.

Stimey said...

I will also be going to hell. My son saw a church once and asked what the building with the giant "t" on it was.

selfmademom said...

I am so going to file this away when my little one realizes he attends a Jewish preschool. Thanks for thinking for me.

Staci Schoff said...

You did great - or you made me laugh at the very least, and I think that's great!

TRS said...

I think you did great! God IS love. That's a great way to describe it for his age.

I'm Catholic too so you get points from me if that matters to you!

And to ALL THINGS - why did God make people. God made people so he could love us - and show us how to love one another. God has so much love, He/she wanted to share it.
So yeah... because He was lonely pretty much sums it up!

urban-urchin said...

I was just going to tell you, and a bit more but then I read William's comment and I can't stop laughing...

urban-urchin said...

sigh. You did fine. I meant to say you did fine. jeez. I can't complete thoughts anymore...

Tis I. said...

God is Love. So, you did well. But, when love starts to break their hearts, explain that it isn't God breaking them. His Love will heal them, again. Thank God, because I know that by the time those days come around, I won't be the smart, wonderful, all-knowing Mommy that Oee loves, now. ;)

*patting you on the back with a thumbs up*