Monday, November 17, 2008

Learning Curve

It's big and it's endless. You're never finished learning how to parent. The job is impossibly complex, and constantly shifting. Your instincts regarding your two-year-old are quite different from the instincts brought out by your teen-ager. And they're different for each child. Some children prove to be sturdy and capable; others are fragile, or creative, or ethereal. Or brilliant. They're all unique. Lessons learned from one rarely apply to the next.

In light of all that, I don't intend to offer advice. What I mean to do is simply to show you which doors I picked, which boxes I opened, which paths I trod; and how it turned out. Sometimes I was right. Sometimes - well, mistakes were made.

I refer, of course, to the Jesus incident.

Eldest Kid (at about the age of 20): I have to ask you something.
McMama: Okay.
EK: Don't laugh.
McMama: I won't.
EK: Was Jesus a Jew?
McMama: Er.
McMama: Uh.
McMama: Are you saying I never told you anything about Jesus? Nothing at all?
EK: Pretty much.
McMama: Well, to answer your question. Yes, he was a Jew.

A couple of weeks later, in consideration of above conversation:

Middle Kid (about 10 years): This is stupid.
McMama: What's stupid?
MK, holding up copy of illustrated Bible stories for children: This book.
McMama: Why do you say that?
MK: It says Adam and Eve were the first people.
McMama: Mm-hm.
MK: And they had two kids...
McMama: Right.
MK: ...and Cain killed Abel.
McMama: Right.
MK: ...and then he ran away to a far land and married some lady. But where did the lady come from if there was only Adam and Eve and him?
McMama: Er...
(Difficult conversation follows regarding literal and figurative readings.)

Many years pass.

Youngest Kid (aged about 10): Do you think we should go to church?
McMama: I don't know. Do you want to?
YK: Maybe. But not Camilla's.
McMama: Why not Camilla's? I thought you liked it when she invited you to go along.
YK: Not really. It makes me feel bad.
McMama: ???
YK: They always tell us that if we want to be saved, we have to love the Lord. But I don't even know him.
McMama: Ah.
YK: Do you love the Lord?
McMama: Do you mean Jesus?
YK: Yeah.
McMama: I admire him very much. He brought a difficult and necessary message to the world, and it's a message that would heal all our troubles if we paid attention to it. He said we should love each other and not get all caught up in revenge when somebody does something bad to us.
YK: Like not suing people and stuff.
McMama: Um. Yeah. I guess not suing people might be a good place to start.

More years pass:

Granddaughter (aged about 5): Yaya, did you ever go to church?
McMama: I did. Many times, when I was small.
GD: Do you think I should go?
McMama (cravenly): That's a question you should ask your parents.

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