Tuesday, August 6th, 2013
I decided to take Fia to church on Sunday. This, after a recent vacation to Mammoth, California where we visited an old ghost town.
Me: “Fia, let’s go look at the old church.”
Her: “Mama, what’s church?”
Cue brakes screeching to a halt. Uh-Oh.
Phil’s father is an Episcopalian Priest. He baptized both our kids. His mom is the epitome of a loving, Christian woman. “Rev and Bev” we call them. Part of the deal in baptizing, besides tradition, is to raise them “in the faith.” However, neither Phil nor I are particularly religious. I would call us more spiritual, even though we both grew up going to Sunday School (and when my family was falling apart in the 9th grade, I briefly became a born-again Pentecostal. Yep. Not kidding). Phil’s experience–which included family time, church picnics and “preacher kid” mischief–was far different than mine.
My parents would pull up in a big cargo van that my mom used for her plant business. They’d open the side door and we four kids would come tumbling out. My adopted brother Carter would bounce in with his huge black Afro and my sister Tanya would follow with her neatly woven cornrows. Kelly, my biological brother, and I would lead the way.
“Come on you guys, we are going to be late!” I’d say, glad to be the older sibling/ring leader. We were a motley crew, no doubt.
My parents would slam the door and shout, “See you in an hour!” and go tearing off. My mother probably went and got high. My father probably went and made charts (we had a sign-in and sign-out chart growing up. Um, yes.).
I didn’t care about the drive-through drop off and I still don’t. In fact, in many ways, I get it. Woo hoo, an hour of free time! No babysitter, no kids. Where I differ from my parents (in addition to the 99% of things they did in child-rearing) is that I’m way too paranoid to ever leave my kids like that. Even when Fia is 8 or 9. No way, no how.
Not only would I not leave her at church alone, I wouldn’t leave her in Sunday School, even if I was at the church attending the main service. I’m much too paranoid; especially after my “Stranger Danger” post and the warning many of you gave me about “tricky people.”
But here’s where I’m grateful for my religious education: I know the stories. I know a whale swallowed Jonah and Daniel got thrown into a lions’ den. I know the implications and the message behind those stories. Many of the tales/allegories are cultural references too, and I think it’s important to know them. And no matter whom you worship–Allah, Buddha, Jesus–the common thread, at its core–is at least supposed to be about compassion, kindness and being a good person. Those are not bad things to teach your kid. One of my issues though, is I feel like I do that regardless. Must I take them to church every Sunday to learn this? Especially because I feel organized religion–also at its core–is deeply flawed?
I won’t go into my issues or grievances. This isn’t about what you believe. It’s about how to teach what you know to your kids without it feeling hypocritical or obligatory.
Back to my church excursion with Fia. On the way there I explained to her we were going to a church to learn about Jesus. Bev sent her the book, “Jesus Loves Me.” Fia knows all the words, partially because I’ve sang her (and Emmett) that song since birth, substituting “Jesus” for “Mama” and “for the bible tells us so” to “for she always tells you so,” etc.
I told her Jesus was a kind person who helped the blind see, the crippled walk and the poor eat. She asked where he was. Instead of saying, “in all of us” or some proper church response, I didn’t think it through. I got distracted because I was driving.
“Well, he died.”
“How did he die?”
“Some bad men killed him.”
“Oh, oh, I know!” she piped up in earnest. “He was smushed and turned into soup!”
(Pause.) (Pause again.) (Pause more.)
“Well, not exactly…”
And so it goes. My search for answers. To be continued…
Pic of church via Shutterstock
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Baptism, Bible stories, children bible stories, episcopal, Episcopalian, priest, religion, stranger danger, Sunday School, teaching Sunday School, toddler church, toddler religion, Tricky People | Categories:
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Thursday, August 23rd, 2012
The week before last a tragedy hit my extended family. The loss has been tremendous. But throughout the grieving process, you find moments of humor. Something my mother-in-law said to me is one of them.
We were leaving her house after Emmett’s baptism, heading to the airport. Phil was taking the kids home on his own while I went on to South Dakota. I was rushing around in a panic, telling Phil everything he had to remember to do for the kids while I was away. I was calling Cleo, explaining everything to her as well (as if she isn’t there every day already. Hello control freak!).
We got in the car and I turned to his mom and said, “Whew. This is going to be hard. I hope Cleo and Phil will be okay on their own.” To which she replied, (and yes, I’m putting this in bold), “You know what is really hard? When you come back and realize they’ve held it together just fine without you.” AAAHHHHH. Eh. She was obviously speaking from her own experience and we both burst out laughing. Thing is, she was absolutely right.
I am happy to report that I got home and my kids, my husband, my house, even my cat–were all unscathed. Thriving in fact.
It feels good to know we can laugh again, even in the worst of times.
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Thursday, August 16th, 2012
Not exactly Fia Friday, but she was surely a part of our big event in Wisconsin last week. As was Phil’s entire extended family.
I consider myself more spiritual than religious, but regardless of who/what one worships, it’s a touching event to behold. It was an honor and privilege to stand by my boy as the holy water flowed.
Phil’s dad is an Episcopalian priest (“The Rev” above) and has baptized all of his children and grandchildren. The dress that all the babies wear (boys or girls) has been in their family for 65 years. And even though Em looked like a girl in it, he grunted like the little magical boy he is. Bless You, Baby. Namaste.
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Sunday, May 15th, 2011
I’ve just jumped over another hurdle—one involving a nasty diaper rash (hers, not mine)–I need to add a crucial item to have on hand: Cornstarch. But don’t follow my example on how to use it. Here’s why:
In the past two weeks I feared arrest. Twice. Not because I was a bad mom. In fact, just the opposite. I felt so bad for the little munchkin and her red bum. I carefully applied the creams, but the diaper rash wasn’t going away as quickly as I hoped, so I added cornstarch into the mix. Apparently you sprinkle it in the diaper and it absorbs moisture. But “sprinkle” clearly isn’t in my vocabulary.
I should pause here and say I have a tendency to overdo certain things. Like if someone tells me a wrinkle cream will get rid of crows feet, I compulsively apply half the bottle at once, hoping for a miracle.
On our way into the city to refinance our apartment, I dumped probably a quarter of a box of cornstarch in her diaper (my rationale is the diaper is white, so I can’t see how much goes in). Three subway trains and a 4-block walk later, I knew she desperately needed to be changed.
Already late to the appointment on the 23rd floor of a posh bank building, I dashed into the bathroom (no changing table. Damn, hate it when that happens), quickly put a mat on the floor and ripped off the diaper. Cornstarch went flying. I mean everywhere. It turned me, Fi, diaper bag and surrounding area into a blanket of white. I prayed no one would walk in. I began picturing the FBI, my arrest and subsequent headline: Mom Spreads Anthrax While Baby Battles Diaper Rash. I tried scooping the massive excess off the floor with a paper towel, but it didn’t make a dent. The bathroom looked like a blizzard had hit. I conceded defeat and walked into the conference room, looking like we had both jumped into a giant silo of flour. I apologized profusely to the woman who was kind enough to promise she wouldn’t call the authorities.
A few days later we were at LaGuardia, about to fly to Wisconsin, where my father in law (an Episcopalian Priest, nicknamed “Rev”) was baptizing the babe. I dumped a bunch of cornstarch in her diaper (clearly I’m a slow learner), got through security, and had to change her. The bathroom was tiny so I went to an empty gate. Out came the plume. Seriously?? How bad is my short-term memory? This time I envisioned the TSA coming after me. They would lock me up. We’d miss her baptism. I’d be condemned by all who know me. Panicked, I tried to rub it into the dark blue carpet as best I could. No luck. I needed an industrial vacuum. Or an escape plan. I grabbed Fi and fled the scene. We boarded the plane, and at 30,000 feet breathed a big sigh of relief (actually she slept). And, the next day, the diaper rash was clear. Maybe there’s something to compulsively using cornstarch??
The baptism was a breeze. After it was over, she looked at me with her impish little grin, as if to say, “Mom, this is nothing. Relax. You already baptized me twice— in cornstarch.”
So my tip to you moms who battle diaper rash: Cornstarch. Put it in the nest. Just don’t follow my lead. Now it’s your turn. What works for you? What are the things you can’t live without?
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