RSS

Monthly Archives: December 2011

No Jesus? No love.

A friend of mine recently chose a private school for her two kids, ages 3 and 5.  My friend, who is not religious, made sure to ask if there was any religious agenda in the school’s curriculum.  She was told no.

So imagine her surprise when she attended her child’s school play and it was filled with (only) Christian stories and teachings.  She watched as the children dressed up like Mary, Joseph and the wise men and rock baby Jesus while singing Christian songs. 

My friend felt hugely uncomfortable but not because she’s uncomfortable with Christianity.  She was uncomfortable because she is a strong believer in exposing her kids to everyone’s traditions and beliefs and letting them choose for themselves and be accepting of others.  She was uncomfortable because she intentionally chose a secular school that indicated they were not preferential to any religion.  She was uncomfortable because the only religion represented was Christianity.

So my friend wrote a letter to the school.  She explained her concerns.  She indicated that she has zero problem with exposing children to cultural beliefs and religions, but that as a secular school she felt that if the play was going down the religious route then all of the religions should’ve been represented. 

An excerpt from her letter:  “We would have been Ok if it had been a celebration of different faiths around the world, for example, including a traditional Jewish song, however only the Christian faith was represented in a school where we have sent our kids with the understanding that it is not a “Christian” school, and where there will be no undertaking of religious teachings … We want them to grow up with a respect for the right of all people to be free to practice their beliefs. Christmas songs likely seemed in good fun, and to go along with the feeling of the season, but they were a celebration of the birth of Christ, which is not what all families celebrate … They are at an age where they are forming their impressions of the world, and we just want it to be an inclusive one, where all religions, ethnic backgrounds, family structures, and gender roles (not playing on stereo types of what “boys”, and “girls” need to do) are represented fairly and with acceptance.”

Seems reasonable to me.  Seems completely logical that a non-religious parent who preaches acceptance for all and who consciously chose a non-religious school would expect that said school would not show a preference for one faith over another. 

A few days later, my friend received a response from the owners of the school. An excerpt: “As we planned we came across the idea, as you suggested, to include multiple songs from other faiths. Even if these faiths do not celebrate Christmas, there are many that celebrate a religious holiday during the month of December. However, here again we ran into some concerns. The class this year is made up of mostly Christians. In fact from my understanding all are Christians aside from a few which are of no particular faith like yourself. The problem we had is that we have seen children at this young age that are completely devastated when they find out that not everyone in the world believes in Christ. Because we have so many Christians and no one from another specific faith we decided it was a little early to introduce multiple religions to the young Christian children in this class.”

I personally have a few issues with this response.  To begin with, nowhere on the application to the school or during the interview was it asked which faith a family follows.  How the director of the school would know what religion each child practices is mind boggling to me.  But my second, and biggest beef, is the notion that young children are not emotionally equipped to handle the news that some people may be different than them. To indicate that young children are “completely devastated” to learn there are different faiths in the world so they aren’t even willing to start to teach acceptance.  That ignorance is what is truly completely devastating.  The approach that sheltering your children is best since having to have the conversation is just too much of a burden.  It’s too uncomfortable.  It’s too difficult.

Last time I checked, it’s this kind of sheltering and ignorance that leads to bullying.  It leads to discrimination.  It leads to a seemingly innocent comment of “you’re weird!” to another young classmate at the playground which in turn leads said classmate to question their own place in the world. 

My three year old is capable of empathy and understanding.  My three year old can recognize differences in people and can process the lesson that different is okay.  Don’t tell me that a group of kindergarteners are too young for this – it’s the perfect time to start. 

If the Christian childrens’ parents wanted only Christian values taught, they could’ve chosen a Christian based school.  But even if they had, Christianity teaches loves and respect for all.  Christianity teaches loving thy neighbour regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation or religion.  In this respect, I’m not understanding how teaching about other faiths is in any way un-Christian.  It’s not contagious, people.  Encouraging your child to accept his peers isn’t going to diminish his love of God.  Your ignorance and hypocricy might, though.  Just sayin’.

Dan Pearce, author of Single Dad Laughing, touched on this with one of his posts “I’m Christian, unless you’re gay“.  and on his follow up post, he outlined some of the responses he received. Most were enlightening, tear-jerking even.  They told stories of transformation, of a principal finally preaching acceptance in his school, or a mom finally contacting her gay son after years of estrangement.  Some of them, though, were downright appalling.  People saying that God tells us to hate sin and that calling for more love and acceptance is directly against His word.  That the kind of love Dan talks about has done nothing but destroy the world

I’m guessing the appalling comments were written by the sheltered kids.  The ones whos parents refused to expose to other faiths and lifestyles for fear that it would be ‘devastating’.  The worst part? These people missed the mark; completely and totally missed the point.  The post had nothing to do with what you perceived to be right or wrong.  It didn’t care if you were gay, straight, Christian or buddhist.  It didn’t care if you condoned the behaviour or not, because it’s irrelevant.  You don’t have to agree with a certain lifestyle or religion.  I certainly don’t! That doesn’t change the fact that in every single major religion preaches love for everyone regardless of background.  That being a true Christian means embracing and loving all mankind, regardless of your personal feelings about a particular lifestyle.  Jesus lived with the sinners and a Christian’s goal is to be more like Jesus, is it not?  Case closed.

So whether you are Christian, Buddhist, atheist, Jewish, gay, straight, transgendered, fat, thin, tall, short, black, white or purple I beg of you to go home and teach your kids that different is okay.  That we love our peers even if they believe something a bit different than us or look a bit different than us.  It will be the most valuable lesson you can pass on to your children and the single most important step in eliminating discrimination and bullying.  We have all been in a situation where we have been the odd man out and made to feel like a freak because of it.  How much different would your experience have been if someone had just smiled and said “that’s different and that’s awesome!”

 
7 Comments

Posted by on December 30, 2011 in Parenting, Random Shit

 

Tags: , , , , , ,

You Pooped Out A Watermelon. The Hard Part’s Over.

I keep seeing all these articles being posted about how terrifyingly hard being a parent is. How the terrible twos are nothing compared to the treacherous threes, but don’t worry because after that comes the frightful fours.  Basically, your child is going to be a monster for the rest of your life so keep that bottle of wine really really close.

Bullshit.

I’m sorry, but any situation is exactly what you make of it.  How you handle it.  Ever heard of self-fulfilling prophecy?  If you’ve decided that it’s just the shits regardless of what you do, you will be right.  And since misery loves company, we write articles and we gather armies to corroborate our story. 

Is parenting always a care free saunter across a grassy meadow with the sun ever so delicately shining on our flawless skin?  Obviously not.  There’s the poop, the crying, the sleepless nights, the tantrums, the meltdowns, the germs (oh goodness, the germs!), the extracurricular activities and a barrage of other shit that will hit you like a runaway train and make you want to tear out your hair.  I’m not here to sugarcoat reality, people. 

It ain't all sunshine and roses

But you chose to obtain this child.  You chose to keep it, to raise it, to parent it.  You chose all this despite seeing other children screaming for more candy in the middle of the mall.  Despite being vomited all over when you held your niece for the first time.  Despite all the articles that told you that it simply never gets any better.  It’s all about perspective.

What I find interesting is that if it were any other aspect of your life – career, friends, even a spouse – you wouldn’t settle for “suck it up.”  That simply wouldn’t be good enough.  You’d change your tactic, tweak your approach.  You’d make the necessary changes so that your situation improved and you weren’t so miserable.  You find a new job.  You’d make new friends, or create enough distance with the toxic ones.  You’d go to marriage counselling, or establish a date night, or join a support group.  You’d take action, and you’d make your life better. 

So what is it about it being your child that makes it ok to just settle for misery?  You obviously can’t trade your child in for a new one (the government generally frowns upon attempting this by the way), but you certainly can change your approach and your outlook to get a different result.  Not only can you, but you have a moral obligation to that child to do just that.  Because you know what? Every time you tell someone “Oh you think 2 is bad? Just wait until 3!” – your child can hear you.  You are subconsciously telling them that they are bad and difficult to manage.  You are damaging their self-esteem from the get-go and then genuinely clueless why they tried that cigarette, or slept with that boy or failed a grade.  It isn’t rocket science.

It’s amazing what a change of perspective can do.  When you stop deciding you’re destined for year in and year out of defiance and headaches.  When you come to the realization that children are people too and deserve just as much respect, understanding and patience that you would afford a grown adult.  Empower yourself, empower your child and use the self-fulfilling prophecy to your advantage.  Decide today that parenting is actually a joy, because you’ve been given the privilege of molding tomorrow’s future. 

People are always surprised when they ask me how it is being a mother and I respond with “it’s fantastic!” They assume I’m being sarcastic or that I’m currently high.  I’m dead serious.  Watching my son grow and learn and mature is the greatest gift I will ever be given and I’m not wasting it dwelling on the negative. 
I know that when he has a tantrum it’s because he’s small with a lot of big emotions that he desperately wants to communicate and control but can’t.  He’s not trying to punish me. 
I know that when he looks at me with that defiant eye and tells me “NO!”, that I am molding him to think for himself and not get pushed around.  That I am giving him the self-confidence to stand up for his beliefs and I will be thankful for this in his teenage years.  He’s not trying to punish me. 
I know that when he gets sick and wants nothing but Mommy all day and night it’s because to him I provide him comfort and safety.  I will want him to always feel comfortable and safe in my presence so we can talk about real life issues.  He’s not trying to punish me.

So on those days where there’s a pooping, germy, crying child throwing a tantrum through the entire night?  Change your approach.  Decide whether it’s a battle even worth fighting.  Update your thinking.  I’ll give you a hint: it’s almost always your perspective.  And don’t worry – it really isn’t that bad.

 
1 Comment

Posted by on December 1, 2011 in Parenting

 

Tags: , , , ,

Tales From the Elevator

End of day, home time.  My zombified body presses the elevator down button and the suspect-at-best elevator finally arrives on my floor.  I stumble on, and press the P2 button.  And that’s when I hear a very strange sound.   I look around, confused before I finally realize it’s that emergency telephone ringing. 

FUCK.

The work elevator is known for its sketchiness and I’m now convinced that I’m doomed to spend the night in this steel cage.  Doing the only reasonable thing you can do when a phone rings, I open the telephone door and pick it up.  Much to my dismay, the phone cord is only about a foot long, requiring me to press my cheek up against the side of the elevator in an awkward sumo squat position.  In high heels, no less.  Luckily, I’m the master of grace and squatting (talents that should not be taken lightly), so I rock it. 

“Hello?”
Long Pause.

Oh great, I think.  They aren’t sure how to tell me I’m trapped.  That, or it’s like that really bad movie where the girl dials the random number on her cell phone and the person who answers is the only one who can save her from certain death.  I may be a squat master, but I wasn’t prepared to do it for the long haul here.  Plus how could I possibly run around like the heroine is supposed to if I’m stuck on the other end of this foot-long cord?  I feel like I’ve already killed her and she hasn’t even spoken yet.  That is way too much to have on my conscience at 5pm.

“Are you paying too high of an interest rate on your Visa or Mastercard?”

“Uh, I’m sorry?” This has got to be the strangest call to action that I’ve ever heard.  Granted, high interest rates cause thousands of financial crises per year so I guess they’re pretty terrifying.

“Transfer your balance to us today and enjoy a promotional rate of 1.9 % for 6 months”

At that moment, I realize that I’m talking to a recording and am being solicited for credit products.  Is no place sacred anymore?

“YOU’RE TALKING TO AN ELEVATOR!” I slam the phone down, smug that I showed that recording who was boss. 

I walk off that elevator, relieved that I don’t have to spend all night diffusing bombs and negotiating with terrorists but I’m a little forlorn about it as well because if that did happen they’d probably make a motion picture out of my story and then I’d be famous and not have to ride in that POS elevator ever again. 

Sometimes life just isn’t fair.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on December 1, 2011 in Random Shit

 

Tags: , ,

 
%d bloggers like this: