Faith, Belief, and Bad Guys

Evan: Christians are people who go to church!

Me: Um, no.  Christians are people who believe Jesus was Christ.  (Don’t say any more.  Don’t say any more.  They’re not old enough.  DO NOT say any more!)

Evan: Oh.  I believe in Jesus, so I’m a Christian.

Me: (Good enough.)  Yes.

Sean: I don’t believe in Jesus.

Evan: YES!  You do!

Sean: No, I don’t.

Me: Why not, Sean?

Sean: I don’t want to tell you.

Me: That’s ok.  I was just curious.

Sean: Can you guess who my favorite person in the Bible is?

Me: (How many “bad” guys have they taught him about?)  Judas?

Sean: THAT’S RIGHT!  JUDAS!  He’s a bad guy!

Me: (Don’t say anything.  Don’t say anything!) He betrayed Jesus, so many consider him a bad guy.  (Ah, crap.)

Sean: He had Jesus killed!

Me: (Shut up.  Shut up.  Shut up.)  No.  That was a bunch of temple leaders.  The (SHUT UP!).  Nevermind.  A lot of people were afraid of Jesus, so they went out and had him killed.

Sean: Because of Judas!

Me: Yes.  But Jesus had to die, so maybe Judas was doing what he was told.  (God, why am I having a religious discussion with my very young boys?!  I’m an idiot.)

Sean: Judas is still my favorite because he’s a bad guy.

Apparently I can’t keep myself from mudding up religious waters.

And when do I start worrying about Sean’s affinity for bad guys?  When he starts idolizing Stalin?

What song?

About once a week I get to pick up Evan at school without boys.  (It’s like a weight has been lifted from my shoulders/arms for fifteen minutes.)  On this day, I can talk and ask questions without interrupting myself to say “Don’t hit your brother,” “Keep your hands off your brother,” “Don’t give the baby that toy,” and “Don’t practice laughing because it makes the baby laugh because it’s too loud.” 

Evan: Today, at school, we learned about, Heaven and Hell.

Ok.  I knew there would be a backlash to sending my child to a Christian school.  But I was sure the Heaven-vs-Hell talk didn’t happen until the child was old enough to understand sin.  I thought I had a few years.  Crap.

Evan: And I raised my hand and told the teacher, that Uncle M, had a really COOL Hell song.

I guess I forgot about The Friendly Giant’s music taste and the fact he has taken it upon himself to educate my boys in the finer things of live.  Alternative rock.  Which I was fine with because that’s what I blasted around the boys, though tempered with The Beatles, Jewel, some country, and of course, classic protest songs of te ’60′s.  And all this was tied into one little word.  Crap.

Me: So what did the teacher say?

Evan: (in a disappointed and sullen voice) Nothing.

Me: Please tell Uncle M this story when you get to your grandma’s house.

And my ever-obedient son (I know, that was tongue in cheek) ran to The Friendly Giant’s room the minute he got into the house.  After a moment, I heard the loud and pure laughter of my brother ringing through the house.

I related the story to my parents later.

Papi: Evan could you sing us the song?

Evan: Ok.  (pause)  Where do bad people go when they die?  They don’t go to heaven where the angels fly.  The go to a lake of fire and fry.

And it was perfect pitch, tune, and tone.

Thank God, he didn’t sing it at school.

Understanding God

It was barely raining as we drove to Evan’s school.  Then it stopped.

Sean: Who turned off rain?!  Mommy!  Turn it on now!

Evan: God turned off the rain.

Sean: Oh!  He turn it on now?!

As soon as we got out of the car, God turned back on the rain, and I, being the crazy mom that I am, allowed my sons to enjoy it in all its glory.  Sean got to relish it more because he didn’t have to go to school and he was wearing his fireman’s boots to splash in the mud puddles.

We left the school with a happy, muddy Sean.

Sean: Mommy!  God turned off rain!

Me: Yes.

Sean: Where is he?!

Me: Um-

Sean: He hiding behind the mountains?!

Me: Well, He’s everywhere.

Sean: Oh!  He invisible!

Me: Yes.

Sean: And He hiding behind the mountains!

Later we picked up my mom to drag her to story time with us.

Sean: Grandma!  God turn off rain!  And He invisible!

Now all we have to do is teach him transubstantiation and he has all the makings of a good Catholic.

Go Forth, Little Children, and Spread the Word.

I knew when we decided to raise the boys Roman Catholic, I was looking for trouble.

The Husband and I agreed on it before we were engaged, when we were planning our future together.  So when the priest at the premarital counseling asked, we could tell him, without crossing our fingers, exactly what he wanted to hear.  The Husband and I had debated it, and I promised my sometimes atheist, sometimes agnostic (depending who he was talking/listening to) husband that we would always be willing and able to explore different spiritual paths if our children decided they weren’t going to be Catholic.

Being raised as a laid back kind of Catholic, I was fully open to the prospect there were more ways to God than one.  My father was Nazarene, and he was the person I went to for spiritual advice.  I went to my mom for moral advice.  My best friend from high school was Jewish.  In college, most of my friends were D.O.C or U.C.C. or Wiccan.  I took Bible courses so I could argue my beliefs with my Protestant friends.  But I knew I had slipped away from being fully Catholic to some hybrid that no one could understand but God and me.  So I knew I was going to have issues sending my boys to Catholic school or Sunday school.

I just figured I had a few years before I had to bite my tongue over the ridiculous of Original Sin.  (If you want to debate this, just let me know.  I personally despise St. Augustine and what he did to our beloved Christian faith.  Jerk.)

We’re sending Evan to a Lutheran pre-Kindergarten.  While I was a little nervous that the new director was a missionary for years and years in Mexico (Did I mention my Catholic family is so anti-converting, they don’t even convert their heretic spouses?), I assured myself that all they could teach four years olds was simple Bible stories and God loves them.

Until last week.

When Evan came home.

The Husband: So what did you learn about in school?

Evan: Jesus loves me.

The Husband: Yes, that’s right.

Evan: Jesus loves me and you and Seanny and Mommy and everybody.  I need to tell everyone that Jesus loves them.  Can I go to all the houses and tell our neighbors that Jesus loves them?

At this point, I’m hyperventilating in the kitchen wondering if we still had to pay the rest of the tuition if I yank him out now or if I had to create a scene about teaching my four year old to apostlize.  I bet I could get their goat if I compared them to Mormons.

The Husband: Well, Evan, I’m pretty sure everyone knows that, so why don’t we play cars instead.

Evan: Oh, ok.

Me: (whispering to The Husband) What are we going to do?

The Husband: He’s four.  I’m sure he misunderstood.  We just won’t let him do it.  Though it would be funny to see him knock on doors.  Where’s his Bible?

I narrowed my eyes.  The Husband was taking this much better than I, and if I wasn’t so sure I was the Evil Genius in the household, I would bet he was enjoying this.  Atheist.

Later I mentioned it to my dad, who chuckled.  Obviously I’m the only one concerned.

Dad: Did you ever think, Fae, that they might have been talking about “Love thy Neighbor?”

Me: Of course not.  Because that would be too simple of an answer and would mean I was freaking out for nothing.

Dad: Well, anything is possible.

I’m getting a new family.

And I wonder who is the patron saint of nonconverting.

Vote for my post on Mom Blog Network

The Importance of Prayer: or Teaching Memorization to a Toddler and a Preschooler

The nice thing about being Catholic is we have a prayer for everything, FOR EVERYTHING.  You need a prayer to ask for forgiveness; we’ got several.  You need a prayer for hope, consolation, joy; we got those too.  How about one for your pets?  Yes.  Need a prayer for finding lost things?  Sure.  How about one to find a parking space?  Yup.  (I swear it works; I don’t know why because I would assume the Mother of God would have more important things to do than get some one a parking space.)  So when you have writer’s block when talking to the Big Guy, it’s nice to start off with a Catholic sanctioned prayer to get things rolling.

 

I’m a big believer in prayer.  I think it not only helps you talk to God, but it helps you understand yourself and goals.  I remember my mom telling me to “Give it to God,” which I felt was a cope out.  I felt that the challenges I faced were meant for me to handle, not pass off the buck to God; while, now I understand it’s more like letting God hold it for a minute as I do the mom-thing for a moment and when the kids are in bed, I can take back the burden and figure things out.  Since I do feel everyone should have some sort of relationship with God, I am trying to pass it along to my boys, and the best way I can think of is teaching them to pray, to talk to God as I remember my dad and mom doing with me and my brothers.

 

Every night we pray with the boys, and since I can’t stand saying “If I die before I wake” with my boys (because that’ll freak them out and that’ll freak me out and I prefer not to stay awake all night listening to their breathing.  I’m trying to get over that), we pray “The Guardian Angel” prayer.

 

Angel of God, My Guardian Dear,

To whom God’s love commits you here.

Ever this day be at my side

To light and guard and rule and guide.

 

Once in a while Evan will say it with us.  Though he would prefer to argue with me over the correct way to say and do “The Sign of the Cross,” which Evan insist starts on the right side, rather than the correct left, and gets very upset if I don’t do it his way.  Then we have to practice it his way, and that buys him another five to ten minutes of awake-time.

 

Another prayer I am teaching the boys is a prayer that I learned when I was a first grader in Catholic school.  Our teacher taught us a prayer to St. Theresa of Lisieux, the Little Flower, who believed we could all do little things, if we could not do something big.  So when we heard a siren, we would pray for the emergency and the people who needed help.

 

Little Flower

At this Hour

Show your Power.

 

I now say it out loud for the boys’ benefit (because it was so ingrained in me at six that I never stopped saying it and people give you weird looks if you start “talking” to yourself in public).  The other day, Evan, on hearing a siren go pass the house, yelled:

 

The Power!

The Flower!

The Hour!

 

Um, close enough. 

 

As I sometimes am a poor excuse for a Catholic (oh, you mean they have mass every Sunday?), we don’t pray every time we need to, like when we get up or before meals.  (Granted my Mom usually doesn’t pray before meals either, but now that my Grandma has dinner with them every night, you better believe that she prays.)  Now the beauty of Catholicism is EVERYONE says the same before meals prayer (as well as a lot of other prayers and the mass is always the same).

 

Bless us, O Lord, and these Thy gifts

Which we are about to receive

From Thy bounty. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

 

Two Thanksgivings ago when we sat down with my father-in-law and my Catholic mother-in-law for dinner, my mother-in-law asked us to pray.  She and I opened our mouths to say- Only my husband’s voice rang out, “Angel of God, my –.”  He looked around as my mother-in-law and I burst into laughter.  Of course, we thanked him for trying and went on with the “real” prayer.  (That story was for all the Catholics out there.)

 

Well, this Christmas, surrounded by Catholics, we prayed our before meal prayer with “The Sign of the Cross.”  Wouldn’t you know it?  Evan never argued on how to do it, just copied the rest, and amazingly, so did Sean.  When we got home and settled back into our routine, I made dinner, and after chasing everyone down for the meal and passing out food and plates, I forgot to pray, which is my usual reason.  But Evan piped up, “Mommy!  We have to pray!  Bless our food!”

 

I’m sorry Mommy is a bad Catholic; she remembers to fast on the right days but not to pray before the meals.

 

In closing, I will leave you the prayer my little brother would say when he was Evan’s age.

 

“Thank you for food, ‘prize, and patience.”

 

That was a prayer for the meal, a hope for a “surprise” like desert, and patience for my mom as she had three kids under the age of five and often she would yell, “God, give me some patience!”

 

 

Vote for my post on Mom Blog Network

Theotokos

Theotokos

 

Many passed her, in the teaming market place, not looking twice.

Only a few glanced at her to ponder her remarkable youth; her

Tranquility; her innocent, large, coffee-colored eyes.

Her hip carried a sweet, chubby baby boy.  His coffee-colored

Eyes observed the chaotic world as he gripped his mother’s blue veil,

Revealing all mysteries begin with a Son and His Mother.

 

 

 

 

 

Inspired to finally put this in words by Bad Mommy Moments

 

 

Vote for my post on Mom Blog Network

Look, Do You Want a Happy God or a Vengeful God?

My mom believes in a vengefully happy God.  We would call it karma.

 

God was able to peer into our souls over the pettiest of things and bring about justice.  He would reward good behavior with a surprised treat and punish us with some hurt or twist of bad luck.  Lost items that were placed on the dresser in a messy room; cookies magically appearing from a bake sale when we actually had finished our homework and didn’t manage to fight.  Really, it was like living with classic fae or brownies, magical helpers in a clean houses and vengeful sprites in a messy houses.

 

God punished us if my mom didn’t get to us first.  It never failed that when someone got out of the fighting punishment because someone said “s/he started it” ( a cue that means Mom is going to lecture you about not fighting and turning the other check) the person sneaking off would run smack into a door, a wall, a coffee table.  My mom would turn and say “God just got you back.”  A tickling fight gone too far could leave someone with a sprained finger.  A lie would be found out in the most innocent and ridiculous circumstances.  A taunt could skin a knee.  My brother ditched school to go play in the snow with friends and was returning with plenty of time and no one being wiser when his truck skid on a patch of ice, denting it and totaling the car in front of him, another high school ditcher.  The one time I ditched in college, the professor surprised the class with a movie and popcorn.  Damnit.

 

Of course, God also rewarded us.  As a child I happily gave my quarter to the church, going to mass with my family and church with my Dad; then one day I found a five dollar bill in the church parking lot, which at six must have meant that God was rewarding me.  My mom often told my brothers that it was a reward for going to church without complaining.  The child who decided to go keep my parents company on an errand would return home with some random freebee give away from a store.  On days when my brothers were especially sweet, they would unwrap their baseball cards and receive the players they were hoping for.  It seemed magical.

 

But my childhood was dominated with the phrase “God just got you back.”  Not that I believed my teenage acne was a plague from God because I refused to give my brother and his friends a ride to the movies or that my brother’s finger got crushed in the door closed by the very hand of God right after coming in my room and taking my doll.  It was more of an understanding of basic karma what comes around, goes around.  When you have three children actively trying to assassinate each other, karma seems to smack them on the ass quite a bit.

 

Along these lines my mom cursed us with “God will give you a child just like you, only the opposite sex so that you won’t know what to do.”  I guess it was along the lines that we will receive a child that will make us miserable just as we had to our parents.  After listening to Bill Cosby, I think that’s every child.  But my mom was really thrown for a loop when she had a popular, cute, smart, sneaky, manipulative middle-child teenager that just happened to be a boy.  Sure, I still believe he was her favorite, only because she could identify with the plight of having an older sister, but my brother really ran my parents ragged, flaunting his bad behavior in front of them.  (Granted it could have been a lot worse.)  Of course, I wonder what my goody-two shoes dad did to ever deserve to get my brother or, I guess, me.  But lately I’ve been watching my boys, and I think I feel the hand of God moving around in here.

 

Take last night as Evan harassed Sean with enough gusto for me to yell “knock it off” but not enough to throw him in time out.  Evan tripped on a toy that he left out and knocked his chin hard on the floor.  Wow, impressive two for one God deal.  I had to clamp my mouth close from saying “God just got you back.”  This nearly a daily occurrence as Evan messes with Sean, who ignores him, and then Evan falls or runs into something.  Now maybe he’s clumsy, but he isn’t.  The kid could be a gymnast or a ballet performer (if I could convince his dad).  It’s just weird.

 

What of the “I’ll have a kid just like me only the opposite sex” theory in my house? 

 

Exhibit A.  I’m quite talkative.  Talking too much and talking someone’s ear off are just many of the special talents I have.  Family legend holds that on a car trip at the age of five, I talked for eight hours, taking a break to nap, and never repeated a story.  Now Evan talks all the time and comes up with the cleverest of stories.  I guess that answers what a five year old could talk about for six hours.

 

Exhibit B. As a toddler, I would politely ask for something; upon refusal, I would stomp my foot and command, “But said please!”  Now Sean says please for everything.  “Peeease!!!!”  It’s really adorable, but it won’t cut mustard when it comes to getting candy for breakfast, marshmallows for snack, or a quarter to play with.  Then when I tell him no, he dissolves into tears, and I swear I can hear “but said please” behind the wails.

 

My boys are still young, so they can’t really cause too much trouble.  But I see the potential.  Of course, if my mother’s theory holds water, I will have a little hellion daughter coming soon to punish my husband for all his fast, slutty, partying days, and then I won’t know who to blame as I lock her in a convent.

 

 

 

Vote for my post on Mom Blog Network

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 253 other followers