April 16, 2013

No peeing on the playground.

Posted in Parenthood tagged , , , , , , at 12:31 pm by openendedcomment

When your child is kicked out of pre-school after managing to download Robin Williams on YouTube and then reciting a routine verbatim on the playground, it’s time for drastic measures.  Catholic School.  My youngest son was enrolled at Faithful Shepherd for Kindergarten as it was determined by his pre-school teachers, his parents (me included) and anyone who had ever met him that this child needed discipline and structure.  We were (all) horribly wrong.  By the end of the third quarter I was kindly asked to not re-enroll him for first grade.  Now, let’s be clear.  He never hurt anyone.  He never bit, hit, kicked, teased or bullied.  He did not swear (at least not in English)  He did,  however, question everything and for lack of a better way of putting it…acted like himself.  A little boy who will not conform.  He has continued this through fourth grade and, to my delight, has not been asked to leave school since.  Though it’s been close.

You may ask what on earth a five-year old could have done to be banished?  As it turns out, many things.

In Kindergarten, at a Catholic School, religion class begins with the book of Genesis.  As his teacher was reading and explaining all about Adam and Eve and the garden of Eden, my son, Adam,  raised his hand.  Mrs. M. : “Yes, Adam?” Adam:   “Ummm, so you’re telling me that God did all of this in six days, right?”  “Yes, Adam.  He did.”  Adam:  “So, what are fossils?  Conspiracy theories?”

In Spanish class, they were learning their colors.  My son, semi-fluent, was bored.  Bored five-year-olds are dangerous and occasionally annoying things.  He was annoying everyone.  Mrs. O: “Adam, really.  Sit still.  You don’t have to do colors.  You can say anything you’d like, as long as it’s En Española.”  Adam: “Anything?”  Mrs. O : “Anything”  Now, right here I’d have to put the blame squarely on the teacher.  If you know my son at all…even a little…you know that wasn’t a normal conversation.  That was a dare being issued and then accepted.  Adam: “Punta.”  I suppose it didn’t help that when I got the call from Mrs. O, my first reaction was “Oh, fuck. He didn’t.”

The Christmas Pageant at his school was darling.  At least it was supposed to be.  They (the teachers) were bright enough not to give him a speaking part, micing Adam in mixed (and pious) company is not a bright move, but they were dumb enough to place him front row center in the angel chorus.  There he was, along with all fifty kindergartener students, in his little suit with a halo of gold foil sticking up over his head.  As is always the case at these functions, they took a minute or two pre-show to allow parents to snap pictures.  As we were snapping away, in total silence, Adam spoke.  Rather, Adam shouted  “Hey!  Mom!”  I waved  “Mom, look!” as he pointed to his halo “Irony, right?”  The entire parent section burst out laughing as I slid down in my chair.  He wasn’t done.  I knew he wasn’t done.  As the pageant progressed and the little six-year-old Mary and Joseph attempted to get through the show, my not-so-angelic son heckled them on.  The inn-keeper refused to give them a room.  Adam: “Aaaand you’re going to Hell”  Joseph forgot his lines when the Angel Gabriel came to visit and asked if he’d still accept Mary, pregnant and all…Little Joseph “Ummm…I forgot”  Adam: “Yeah, you do, or Jesus would have been a bastard.”   Little Mary, throughout the last scene, had a hard time holding onto Baby Jesus, his plastic doll self kept falling.  Adam : “Mary!  C’mon, you’re killing the son of God”  And my favorite, when the three kings brought their gifts, “Cheap for a King.  They should have brought diamonds or at least got these guys a room at the inn.”    *sigh*   I could do nothing but sit there and wait for it to (finally) be over.

There was also the time he managed to get the entire school evacuated by convincing the other fifty kindergartener children to dump milk down the boiler.  And during the Spring concert, when he “conducted” the whole way through and inserted his own lyrics.  The time he went off about Catholics being vampires, drinking blood…the time he peed outside at recess, and when put on time-out, called the teacher a hypocrite because the school was teaching them about water conservation and he was “conserving water by not flushing.”  So many examples and far too many phone calls home.

Oddly enough, as soon as we put him into public school, he was better.  He still gets in all sorts of trouble, but not to anywhere near the same level.  This is a child who can not and will not be contained by any boundaries of thought.  Church was always a challenge for him.  He’s spoken up at several masses and made all sorts of off-color comments.   Once in front of forty priests that were gathered for my daughter’s first reconciliation.   To their credit, several laughed when he asked if the guys that stabbed Jesus after he was on the cross could ask forgiveness and be absolved, or if they were pretty much screwed.  And though he makes me mental and though parenting him is a daily challenge, I love that about him.  I love that he questions and forms his own opinion.  I love his acerbic wit and the way he can see the humor in just about anything.  I love that his brain works a little bit differently than most people’s and today, as I’ve just gotten a call about a science experiment gone wrong, I need to remind myself of how wonderful his outlook can be.


March 19, 2013

A departure.

Posted in Life Lessons, Parenthood tagged , , , , , , , , , at 11:19 am by openendedcomment

A new Pope was installed today.  As a woman who was raised as Catholic, this should be an important day for me.  It should be a day to embrace my faith and feel more connected to my church and to God.  I know this intellectually but emotionally and spiritually, I feel only confusion…detachment and sorrow.  I want to believe and I do believe in God and in the basics but in the church itself…in and for that I feel only loss.

This Pope embraces care of the poorest among us, he is a scientist and a Jesuit.  He believes in furthering education and humility.  These  are all wonderful things.  He spoke of and has acted on purging the church of the sins of its leaders.  That is a good thing too, and high time.  Today he spoke of love.  Love for those who most need it and love for those who least deserve it.  That is exactly what I have waited for the church to speak of and to act upon.  I ought to be eleated…but I am not.  I am not because though he spoke of love he remains firmly rooted in the archaic notions of women’s role being minimal at best and in women having no place in the church’s leadership.  He is traditional (in the sense of the church) in his stance on reproductive rights and even birth control.  Perhaps hardest for me is that he, together with the church’s leadership, remain resolute in their opinions and teachings on homosexuality.

I can’t agree.  I can understand that these are the church’s teachings, but for the life of me, I can’t understand why.  I’m not talking about other religions who may agree with the Catholic Church on some of these social justice lines, frankly, that isn’t what I’m concerned with.  I am selfishly concerned with my religion and the church I was raised in and more specifically with how on earth I can justify raising my own children as Catholics today.

I’ve asked.  I’ve spoken to priests and to very devout friends.  They’ve all given me the exact same BS lines and quoted the exact same scripture at me what seems like thousands of times.  No matter how often I hear it, I know it is not true.  I know it isn’t true.  The scripture they quote can easily be refuted with another verse in another chapter.  Besides, I do not and have not ever taken the Bible literally.  How can I?  How could anyone with an analytical and developed mind?  Knowing the Bible has been written and rewritten for political purposes over a millennium with entire sections removed and added for various reasons…knowing that the original disciples, the original priests and leaders of the church were allowed to marry and that women did have a larger role in the church for centuries until someone decided they didn’t…how could I?  And this is just the New Testament.  The Old Testament is clearly up for interpretation.  Please, please don’t comment on this part with any “Adam and Eve” stuff here.  I mean, really.  If Adam and Eve begat Cain and Abel, how did Cain and Abel procreate without committing incest?  If you truly belive that “traditional” marriage is between one man and one woman because “the Bible says so” then please explain why half of the Old Testament had numerous wives. If we’re going straight “traditional” as our guide, then Cody and the Sister Wives are our model and…well…please let’s not agree on that, OK?  And why and how on earth is it that the exact same scripture used to justify this hatred was used to justify laws prohibiting inter-racial marriages?  Look it up.  Exact. Same. Scripture.  Frankly, I’m offended.  I believe that God is offended.  The Bible and God’s teachings are those of love.  To use bits and pieces to promote hate is antithetical to Christianity and it makes me sick.  Further, if abortion and birth control are so wrong, why did the church assist with birth control (granted it was rather crude in form, but still happened) for women for centuries right up until the nineteenth when it became a social issue?  C’mon people…get some new material.

I want to raise my children with religion.  I want them to have the peace and knowledge that I do, that there is a God and there was a Son.  That their conscience is more than a conscience and that the traditions of communion and confession are important and true.  That said, I will raise good people.  I will raise children that believe in forgiveness over judgement.  People that understand tolerance and justice on a far deeper level than they know bigotry and hate.  I want to provide the world with four individuals who know how to question and think for themselves while rooted in firm and unshakeable values…and knowing what I know and hearing what I have heard from this place I used to find such comfort, I no longer know how to provide that for them.

And I need to.

They miss the ceremony and the tradition.  Sometimes I do, too.  We walked out of a mass several months ago when a deacon took to the pulpit and eschewed hatred and judgement for many that I love and millions who should find comfort rather than persecution in the arms of God.  I took one look at my four babies and knew in that instant I could not allow them to hear such things.  That even though I had always explained our family’s feelings on the issues after a mass, that by having them exposed in any form to such outrageous statements while telling them to “believe” was inexcusable as a parent.  So we walked.  It’s been bothering me ever since and today, of all days, I miss my church.  In writing this I can understand that I miss the idea of my church…of what I thought it to be for so many years.  I miss the comfort I found as I kneeled and prayed, enveloped by a sense of tradition and the teachings of Christ that I had chosen to acknowledge…of redemption and of love and of charity and peace.  New beginnings and eternal life.  I know that I will never go back, not the way I once was.  I don’t know what I am anymore, clearly not Catholic.  Not really.  To continue to identify as one seems unfair to those that actually are and a departure from what I know in my heart to be right.  I know that for my children I will have to find something different.  A compromise of what I know to be true and what I believe they need in their lives.  I will likely always cross myself and carry my rosary.  I will never waver from fish on Fridays.  As a family, we will still pray before dinner and still say the Hail Mary at the graves of those we love and lost.  I will find something new, someday.  In the meantime, for the church of my childhood and my grandparents, I will pray.  I will go again to the Basilica of Saint Mary and I will kneel before Our Mother and light a candle the way I have hundreds if not thousands of times before.  I will quietly ask that she bless me on this journey, secure in the knowledge I gained at the feet of Father Milano, that no matter what I am taught or told in my life and regardless of by whom, if I take the Spirit as my guide and listen in reflection to the truth of my conscience, I will be on the right path.

And for today, at this moment of what may be great change but still not great enough, my path is away.

November 3, 2012


Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , , , at 9:13 am by openendedcomment

I feel that there is a disproportionate amount of prejudice, hurt and hatred being spewed these days.  I can’t stop it all but I can end some.  For those that asked, that’s why I declined to approve some comments on my last post.  It wasn’t written as an open debate on religion and politics but rather to explain my own personal view on the matter and to encourage others to examine their own personal view before voting.  I had and have no intention of telling someone else what to think or why.  I don’t believe that’s right.  I have no intention of promoting cruelty and pain be it intentional or not and therefore will not allow it on something over which I have control.  Open discussions are one thing, blatent attacks, comparisons to crimes and name calling are quite another.

I hope that after the dust has settled and the votes are all counted that we are closer to unity and acceptance for all as a society, but that’s just me.  That’s what I want.  That’s what I pray for.