Tuesday, January 15, 2008

On Teaching Faith and Non-Judgments

LMNOB is growing up, more and more these days in her thoughts.

Some of the conversations we have are starting to alarm me, as they make me think, "Whoah, there - can't we cross that bridge a bit later?" or, "Hold up, let's clarify for a minute and discuss all the different angles of this."

Some of these conversations are very academic - for instance, before Christmas break LMNOB had been assigned to read a new Magic Treehouse book. When I asked her what it was about, she said, "It's about our war, you know the American one from olden times?"

"Well, we had several - but is it about the Revolutionary War, with George Washington, or the Civil War?"

"What's the Cibil War?"

And from there ensued a long [epic, considering her usually short-lived attention span with communications] discussion about how slavery used to be a practice, and how some people didn't like it, but others did, and how a war came about from that. Towards what I thought would be the end of this discussion, LMNOB made connections from the "Cibil War" to Rosa Parks and MLK Jr. Which led to more discussion, and my feeble attempts to illustrate connections in her everyday world (and given that we live in Vanilla Valley, that was not much more than pointing out that Little Bill is black and yet, just like us in many ways).
Then on the way to OT just before Christmas, LMNOB blurted out in the back seat, "I wonder what BT the OT celebrates."

"What do you mean?"

"You know...like does she celebrate Christmas, or Hannukah, or Wanzaa?"

"It's 'Kwanzaa,' honey, but I don't know what she celebrates either - you should ask her. It would be good practice for your communication."

So she asked BT the OT, and BT the OT proudly proclaimed that she celebrated Christmas, and how she just loved that LMNOB asked her that.

Afterward, in the car, LMNOB quietly muttered, "But Mama, I wonder if she celebrates the REAL Christmas."

As the statement faintly stank of judgment, I was a little perturbed. "What do you mean honey?"

"Like, does she believe in Jesus, or does she just like Santa and all the toys?"

"Well, honey, we don't know that. And that is a very personal question to ask, which is ok, but what if you asked her if she believed in Jesus and she said no?"

Shrugs were heard from the back seat. "I don't get it - what do you mean?"

"Well, if she were to say 'No, I don't believe in Jesus,' would you think less of her, like would you think she was bad?"

Exasperation was thick in her response, "Mooooooooom, of course not!"

"Ok, Lil Miss...I just wanted to make sure, because if you did, that's judging and Jesus would never want us to do that. He hated it when people judged others, know why? Because we all mess up, and just because we think one way doesn't mean we should EVER treat people who think another way any differently, because we are no better than any other person."

I must have belabored my points because when I was done, she said, "Okaaayyy Mama, I get it."
Last night, we had another such conversation at casa del Meyer while I was fixing dinner. Punkinhead was talking about loving stuff, and was all "I love my hockey doll," and LMNOB said, for the first time that I've heard, that age old line, "If you love it so much, why don't you marry it?" Then laughed like she was the first person to ever think of that.

That alone about cracked me up.

Then I heard Punkinhead say, "Fine, then I WILL."


At which point I intervened and said, "Actually, some places they can."

"Well, even if they COULD, they WOULDN'T, THATS WEIRD!"

"Well, it's not the majority, you're right there, but some boys actually do love and 'marry' boys and some girls actually do love and 'marry' girls."

('marry' just because I didn't dare go into the technicalities of gay rights and civil unions, marriages, etc! Also, was very glad my homophobic hubs was not home!)

Boy could I see her little wheels turn after that....but she didn't ask me any questions, and I didn't want to burden her with information overload. She is maturing every day, but she is still only 6 - she doesn't need to know it all just yet.

Plus, that said, I don't know it all just yet - how could I ever just pretend to hand The Knowledge of All Things down to her? These things are faith and values-based, and while I have my own faith and values that tell me I would love for her to arrive at the same understandings as mine, I also want hers to be her OWN. I don't want to fill my child's mind with propaganda and "Thou Shalt Not's" that she blindly accepts without questioning.

No Jesus Camp for me, thank you very much.

But between school and church and friends and other family, I am but one voice she hears.

Hopefully one of THE voices, you know? The ones she actually listens to?

1 comment:

  1. Wow. Those are some heavy-duty topics. Good luck, it sounds like you've handled them very gracefully, so far.

    Did you read Mimi Smartypant's blog this week? She had a similar experience with her daughter, except she's an atheist and the topic of God came up... she didn't quite handle it as open-mindedly as you did, but it was an interesting read.