I was driving Will to my Paul’s parent’s house one day and someone cut me off, without thinking I yelled out, “JESUS CHRIST!” – Will, delighted at learning a new word immediately began bellowing, “JESUS CHRIST! JESUS CHRIST! JESUS CHRIST!” – Horrified, I tried to diffuse the situation, “No no no no no, baby, we don’t say that, especially in front of Babcia!”
He cackled with delight at my discomfort, “JESUS CHRIIIIIIIIIST!!!!!” he said, well laughing manically. As we pulled into the driveway, Babcia appeared to remove him from his car seat.
“Babcia”, Will said, an evil grin spreading across his face, she replied with something Polish which I imagine translated into, “Yes, sweetheart” – “JESUS CHRIST!!!”
She looked at me, joy spreading across her face. “Ohhh, you want to learn about Jesus?” – I went into damage control, “No no, he means JESUS CHRIST, the swear word, not Jesus Christ, the person” She looked at me like I was insane and took him in the house.
A little history, Paul’s Mom speaks English, however we have always had a language barrier as I normally speak loudly, quickly and with flailing arms. Early on in my relationship with Paul, I was taking a trip to Italy with my family. Paul, trying to find some common ground between us explained to his Mom that I was very excited about my trip because I loved churches.
She misunderstood this to mean I love CHURCH. Excitedly she asked which parish my parents belonged to and how often I attended mass. To further compound the awkwardness, I frantically yelled out a random saint’s name, hoping it was a church at the exact same moment Paul switched to Polish and tried to explain I like the buildings and art, not the actual Religion part.
Needless to say, early on in our relationship she was well-aware that I was mildly insane. Back to Jesus Christ! Later on when I went to pick up Will I asked Babcia how the day had gone. She said that it was wonderful. They had gone to some garden to learn about Jesus and walk around. The garden had statues depicting the Stations of the Cross.
If you are unfamiliar with what that is, it’s the 14 stages of Jesus’ Crucifixion, including feel-good-child-appropriate moments like “Jesus is stripped of his clothes” and “Jesus is Crucified” I was pretty concerned that Will was going to have nightmares but luckily nothing stuck, his only comment was that the park was boring since there were no swings or slides.
Paul and I both attended Catholic school. As adults on a good day we’re agnostic, and on most days we’re atheist. When I say I am atheist, I mean that I am atheist. I spent 15 years in catholic school constantly asking questions and being told to zip it. I followed that up with 4 years in University, majoring in Religion and trying to sort out if only Catholicism wasn’t my cup of tea or it was all religions.
I really want to believe but after spending many, many years shopping around, I realized it wasn’t Catholicism I had the issue with, I just couldn’t believe in anything. I really wanted to, but I can’t. Some people get offended by this but please know, my lack of faith does not mean that I judge others for their faith. It’s the opposite, my appreciation for religion and the support it provides to people when they need it is immeasurable, it’s just not something I can believe in.
Even though Paul and I are not practicing, Evan and Will are both baptised and we have every intention of having them attend Catholic school. As offensive as this might sound, I equate Jesus with Santa and the Easter Bunny. He’s a fictional character I need Will and Evan to believe in so I don’t ruin their childhood. Death is an inevitable part of life and telling a child that nothing magical happens at death, you just decompose is straight up terrifying.
I know it might seem hypocritical to baptise them when we don’t actually believe but as mentioned, I was only able to make the choice about my beliefs after I spent many years learning about Catholicism. When it came time to choose a school for Will we decided to enroll him in Catholic school. Our reasoning was it was a good place to start in his own decision making when it comes to his spirituality and beliefs.
This evening we attended his school orientation. I have many lists readied for all the things I need before Will starts school in September. For my self-preservation, I don’t think of him attending school often because I cry each time. The one item on the list I cannot figure out is how to introduce GOD and JESUS (the person, not the swear word). It’s so strange when you’re a non-practicing grown-up how little faith and God plays a role in your life.
Will is exceptionally bright and asks questions all the time. Each time he’s asked a profoundly deep question I have an inner-dialogue considering whether to tell him the truth or lie (and explain it was God). Up until this point I still haven’t brought Jesus and God into our life and I have no idea how to begin. I have now gone into panic mode as this evening was very eye-opening…
We began with a prayer (I forgot that everything in Catholic school starts with a prayer). The principal then launched into an explanation of faith-based learning – reviewing that all subjects are coupled with faith. She used the example of science and faith. Unfortunately, she caught Paul and me smirking at each other at this point because we thought she was kidding…she also mentioned they were big on re-enactments and the previous year the Jr. Kindergarten class acted out the last supper, including having grape juice as wine. I don’t really know how I feel about our choice anymore. I feel slightly hypocritical and guilty that I have to lie to Will about this religion stuff, but the inevitable death question looms in my mind and I don’t see another way to explain it.
Recently he stumbled across a Youtube video about dinosaurs and asked me what happened to them. I explained there was a big meteor that smashed into the earth. Horrified, he asked me if the dinosaurs got burned. Realizing what my truth-bomb had unleashed, and fearing that he would never sleep again, I told him that they were all fine because they all moved to another planet before it hit the earth.
I always equate this with religion. One day he will learn that the dinosaurs did not, in fact move to dinosaur-planet but were actually killed by that giant meteor…wait…Catholic school, he will learn they drowned because two of them forgot to get on Noah’s boat. He will know I lied to him and that will suck. I considered not posting this article because I know my opinion is offensive to people, and if I offended you, I am sorry. I wish I could believe because it would make this chapter in Will’s life mush easier to navigate. So, I ask any seasoned parents out there, who have successfully moved their little ones into Catholic school but don’t actually believe in God to take some time and help me out!
I have two months until Will realizes that Jesus is actually a person and not just something I say when I’m angry and I have no idea how to prepare him for this!