Saturday, March 16, 2013

She's figured it out.

If you're friends with me on Facebook then you may have seen the picture that I shared a week or so ago. My daughter came home from school with her library book, and it was a book about Easter.

Now, you'll remember that we're a mostly Jewish family in the south, and I spend some time working on finding my religion.

If you knew me a few years ago, or have skimmed back that far, you'd have seen our family discussion addressing the age old question of where does Santa live?

You may have even brushed up on how I was Cookie Swap Virgin many moons ago.

But I'm good now.

We're a beautifully blended holiday household, and despite the questions this sometimes brings, we usually coast through them.

Until this.

Now, don't jump to conclusions ... I don't mind books about Easter. I promise.

But the whole "He Has Risen" thing? Yeah. Not so sure that's the way to go. Not so sure that I want to be teaching that to my 6-year-old. Especially when this is not what her father and I believe. I know it's a huge part of many people's beliefs. Many people. And it means so much to them. I don't judge. I don't scorn. I respect. I acknowledge. But I don't believe. And that should be as okay as them believing, because we're different. And it's not that I don't plan to or want to expose my child to different beliefs. It's just that. *I* want to. I don't want someone ELSE to. Especially not at a public school.

Again - it's great for you, for any of you. It's just not how my family works.

But I moved forward. We read the book the other night. Kind of - sort of. I'll admit, I wasn't looking forward to bringing Jesus forth. Inviting him into our home, since I don't know much about him. I could  say he was Jewish (he was, right?). I could say people believe he was the son of G-d. But I've barely scratched the surface of Judaism. This is my fault, sure, but I've got my own timeline in mind. Why should I have to cross it for another religion because of a book she brought home from school?

You're right. I shouldn't.

Turns out I mostly didn't have to. She wanted to turn to the page where the kids were dressed up as animals for the parade. Awesome. She wanted to look at the pretty pictures. We skimmed through. I explained that Easter is a holiday. But it's not really a holiday that WE celebrate. Mommy is Jewish and she is Jewish, and Daddy is not religious, so we don't really do much to celebrate Easter. But we celebrate (sort of - again - I'm off target here, as well, I know. ANd have my own guilt, but that's a whole other part of the story,) Passover.

She's fine. She proceeds to tell me the book is "fiction" ... ah, yeah. Wait. Hold up on that. I work to explain that it isn't fiction to many people, it's just not what we believe.

She continues. Tells me that books with kids dressed up as animals? Fiction.

Animals that talk? Fiction.

She went on. It was pretty cool.

But I had to tackle the subject. Or so I thought.

She explained it to me perfectly.

"We don't celebrate Easter because we're Jewish and Maine-ish."

Honestly? I laughed so hard I pulled her into my arms and into the biggest hug ever. Of all time.

"Mommy, I don't know how to say Maine like Jewish."

It's okay, baby. It doesn't really work that way. But it's okay.

See - what's it matter? What does it really matter what we are or how we are or how it all works?

We're people. We believe what we believe. We're from wherever we're from. We love how we love and we feel what we feel. And so it goes.


  1. We identify as Christian. We go to church probably twice a quarter. But we do talk a lot about Jesus, mostly because my 6yo asks me things like "Mommy, do you remember when Jesus climbed up on the cross and DIED?" To which I have to respond, "Um, I wasn't actually there, but that is what we believe. But I don't think he climbed up. I think it was more of a punishmet type of thing." And then I have my spiritual crisis of the day, because even though I was raised in that faith, I often struggle with the whole thing.

    Religion is confusing and it has caused so many wars and so much hatred between so many people,all thinking they are *right*. To me that is the last thing it should do for any of us. I'm so glad that we live in a place where we are able to live together freely to discuss and learn from each other (aside from the occasional hateful outlier nutbag).

    So what I'm saying is that I think a lot of us struggle, regardless of our faith, but I'm always glad to share other faiths with my kids because I think it makes them more cosmopolitan and tolerant people. Not saying that you aren't doing that. Just saying that that is where I am on this journey. xoxox

  2. My kids are still a bit young for this, but I do think about it a lot. I'm Jewish and my husband is half Jewish. So the kids do have some Christianity in them. So far we celebrate Christmas with some of the grandparents and Chanukah with the others. We do Easter baskets and Passover seders. I do want to explain meanings about all of this..someday. It's definitely a conversation piece.

  3. I am in a place right now where I am trying to figure out what it is that I believe in. It's all so confusing & I haven't had to start talking about this with my daughter(yet)but I know the time will come eventually.

    I laughed when I read Maine-ish...Love that :)

  4. You go mama, you stick to your timeline. You know what's best for her... and for you! I remember I got so mad when I found out that they had a mandatory religion class (2 hours a week) in Sarah's old school, and the religion was, you guessed it, Catholicism. Hello, disrespectful much? Didn't even bother to bring that up or ask in the enrollment forms. 'cause apparently everyone is just Catholic.

    I am happy to explore different religious beliefs with her, but I am not happy with someone just imposing their beliefs on her and calling it part of the curriculum.

    Whoops, sorry, got sidetracked. Hugs!

  5. I just love this story. Not because your daughter brought home such a religious book from school (what's with that, anyway? WTH?!), but because you are raising such a smart girl. She was totally just logic-ing this thing out for herself. She's Jewish and Maine-ish, so no biggie. She's got this one. I just love it. --Lisa

  6. I love this so much! We are Catholic, and I struggle with discussing religion and spirituality. I feel like I am still in the process of discovering my own faith. How can I even begin to explain something so complex? Yet my girls keep it so simple. We love everyone. We believe what we believe.

  7. You know 1) we are a non-theist household, and 2) my public-school attending kindergarten kid came home with a book about Bosnian children, Sniper fire, and shoe boxes full of gifts.

    So. Yeah.

    I'm fine and lovely teaching my children about different faiths; it is, after all, impossible to explain the world without them.

    I just don't think the religious "story" texts belong in the school library. The history of religious belief and cultural differences? Yes.

    A book that details a child losing her doll while running from snipers? No, just no.

  8. I find it odd that they teach religion in public school. I went to Catholic school all my life so to me religion talk in school makes sense. But I'd be upset if a public school chose one religion over the other to bring into the learning environment.

    I think you have given he a good foundation that she knows she's Jewish and she can appreciate another's religion and know we all believe different things.

  9. It's complicated. I like the way you handled it.

  10. Religion is very complicated and I think you handled it beautifully!

    We aren't religious and the last town we lived in was very big on religion, I'm talking 13 churches for a population of 1,300! I watched a little boy that would try to talk to my daughter about God every so often, it was interesting to see her take on what he said. Usually she ignored him, she had no interested in what he was saying. She's 4.

  11. We are go to church and talk about our faith a lot at home. Does that make us Christians and South Carolianish? I will have to ask JDaniel. I think your daughter and my son are the same age.

  12. Oh this is so fabulous... Maine-ish! I love it.

    Religion is such a confusing thing and you are giving her such a gift, helping her work through it.

    I remember when my kids had a conversation about Christmas with the son of a Jewish friend of mine, 'Jesus?" he said, "Oh, we don't believe in that guy!" Again, fabulous! :-)

    We went to his brother's bar mitzvah a few months back and I actually enjoy discussing the differences with my kids and explaining that it's all okay... but mine are a little older than yours.

  13. My kids go to a Catholic school, but learn about different faiths as well. They learned all about Hannukkah, and I just found out they will be having a Seder next week. (Sorry if I misspelled). I love that they are learning about other faiths.

  14. Very well written. It sounds like you handled it very well. She's lucky to have such a fantastic mom. :)


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