In the car, on the way to pick up Ben from school yesterday –
Jonas (5): Mom, what’s ‘terch’?
Gray (8): It’s not ‘terch’, it’s ‘church’.
Jonas: OK, what’s ‘church’?
Me: Uh… it’s a place some people go to worship.
Jonas: What’s ‘worship’?
Me: Well, it means like praying and… stuff…
Jonas: What’s ‘praying’?
Me: *SIGH* Ah… praying is talking to god.
Jonas: Alright. But what’s ‘god’?
Me (realizing this conversation is not going to end quickly or easily): So, some people believe in a higher power. Like a sort of guy in charge of it all. And actually some people believe in multiple higher powers-
Gray (interrupting, which was good because it wasn’t going anywhere particularly eloquent or sensical): Lots of people in my class go to church.
Jonas: Why don’t we go to terch?
Me: Uh, well because Daddy and I don’t believe in organized religion.
Gray: Like almost all of the people in my class go to church.
Me: But I bet they don’t all go to the same church, right? And I bet a lot of them are different religions from each other. Belief is a personal decision and it’s ok if we all believe different things.
Gray: I don’t believe in god.
Me (Wincing, wondering if this means he also doesn’t believe in Santa Claus or the tooth fairy or if this is less critical thinking and more knee-jerk “I think what my parents think” talk. Worrying that maybe an 8 year old needs to believe in a higher power to cope with some of the harsh realities of life he’s going to encounter. Sure, religion has that whole guilt thing as a negative, but it is really comforting when someone you care about dies or something unfair happens. Maybe I’m too obsessed with what I feel like is the truth. Do kids really need the truth as much as they need to believe in nice things and that the world is an ok place? Maybe I should invent a religion without all the guilt and indoctrination regarding evil that still lets them feel like there’s a reason behind the madness and something beyond this life. We could sing and it wouldn’t even have to be early Sunday morning. Then my kids could grow up through their formative years feeling safe and comforted and make the decision about what they believe when they’re older and have the tools to really understand and cope with life. Maybe this is why L. Ron Hubbard invented Scientology. Shit. I probably should have thought of this sooner. I think that ship has sailed.): Well, I don’t either, but it’s a pretty complicated thing, so you might change your mind some day, and that’s OK, too.
Gray: I wouldn’t even want to go to church. We went once with Grandma, remember Jo? We had to get dressed up and it was really boring.
Jonas: I don’t remember.
Me: I went to church when I was young. I liked it. There was lots of singing and my minister told nice stories. And all of my friends went to my church. If you ever decide you want to go to church, I could take you. You might change your mind.
Jonas: Mom, can I have a capri sun when we get home and can I ride my bike in the front yard?
Gray: Can you turn this song up on the radio? I like this one.
Me (exhaling shakily): I need a drink.
The sex conversation can’t possibly more uncomfortable or nerve-wracking than that, can it?