I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this but my youngest son attends a Catholic school. It was our intention that both boys attend Catholic school but given our oldest needs some reading assistance and speech therapy, when learning that the Catholic school could not provide and did not allow us to coordinate those services into the school, we sent him elsewhere.
For the past year, my youngest son has therefore been going to mass once per week while at school. In addition, weekly, he has a religious lesson…All of which have made their way into our home in some of the most interesting ways.
I first started paying attention to what he was being taught when he came home and told me he learned that “Jesus was in the trees”. Naturally, I asked him about this and he said his teacher told him Jesus was everywhere and for him, that meant that Jesus was in the trees and that when he looked at the trees…he could see Jesus. So we walked outside, looked at a tree for a few minutes and I asked him to show me where was Jesus…because I couldn’t see him.
Another time he advised us that God didn’t like bad behavior and that when you were bad, God punishes you. At first I thought this might serve my purposes (no I am not above using God to get my children to behave properly) and so when he was tempted to misbehave, I would remind him that God was watching and would not like it…but then he very quickly turned the table and would tell me Daddy, God doesn’t like when you are mean to me. So I asked when am I mean to him and he advised…when I make him go to bed, or when I tell him he has to read before he can go out to play, etc. So basically, anytime I insisted he did something he didn’t want to do…I was being mean to him and God was going to punish me. I ended that line of thinking fast by telling him his teacher was wrong…that God doesn’t punish people for bad behavior and that he could tell her I said so.
Once, he and I got into an argument. I can’t even remember what is was about exactly. What I do recall is that he kept insisting he was right because the “Father” told him. I told him he was wrong and pulled the Daddy card. I ended the argument by telling him that if he could show me where it said that in the bible, then I would believe him. With his being just 5…naturally he couldn’t and so he moved on. I was so bothered by the conversation that the next time I saw his teacher, I made a point of asking her “just how religious is this Catholic school?” She looked puzzled until I said “I send him here because of the education…not for the religion so if you guys are really gonna push the religion…I am gonna need to rethink this”…she assured me it was a mild form of catholicism for children his age. I am not convinced though.
One day I guess he learned about prayer and how God answers them. How do I know this…because when I got home, the Nanny was upset and wanted to talk to me. When I asked her what was up, she said my son refused to do his homework and reading that day. As a consequence, she gave him a time out on the sofa. While there, he decided to close his eyes and pray to God that he would send her home. She, being a Catholic herself was really bothered by this. I thought it was smart…but hey I was raised Baptist!
He loves saying grace and tries to insist we all say grace. We smile and encourage him. Its kind of cute I guess…You can’t say I don’t indulge him.
His most recent however was the most troubling. During summer camp, I guess they were having a conversation about God being their father…and this joker came home and told me “Daddy, God is my real father…you are my fake father”. And with that I nearly cracked. I asked him a series of questions:
Does God make sure you eat every day or does Daddy do it?
Does God buy your clothing and makes sure you have a bed to sleep in?
What about your toys…Does God spend his money buying them?
Who takes care of you when you get sick…God or Daddy?
And when its your birthday…Does God buy you presents?
See, its Daddy doing all of that because that’s what “real” daddies do…So if God is your “real” daddy, then I will just stop and let you get all your stuff from God from now on.
And just like that…he lost his religion…well sort of!