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02/09/2010

Sometimes the followups just write themselves

A belated but sincere thank you.  All your comments a few weeks ago on my post about Charlie's incipient spiritual awakening were really helpful.  I read them with great interest, making note of the points I found most useful, and waited, like a panther tensed to spring, for Charlie to ask.

He didn't.  He threw over Ramona the Pest in favor of some Magic School Bus book or other — Frizzle's In UR Colon, Probin UR Sigmoid.  And gradually I relaxed, perceiving that the threat had receded.

So it was with some alarm that I heard Charlie say, as I tucked him in a few nights ago, "I said a prayer today at rest time."

"Ohhhhhh?" I answered.  My lips were saying Isn't that mildly interesting but my heart was saying OMG WTF.  (My aorta insisted long ago that all its co-workers learn Morse code for just such an emergency.)

"I prayed," he said, inserting a dramatic pause, because when you're five there's no other kind, "that my life would get better."

And it had been kind of a rough evening for Charlie, I guess.  I offered him some sympathy, some talk, and a hug.  And then — oh, like you could resist, either — I caaaasually asked him, "What's a prayer?"

"It's something you say when you ask God to do things for you," he answered with confidence.

"Oh.  Who's God?" I asked.  Some of you expressed surprise that a kid could get to age five without acquiring some sort of familiarity with God and Jesus, but, because we keep Charlie strictly confined to his room when we're not out picketing churches or tripping popes or humping Stonehenge or whatever it is we atheists do of a Sunday morning, I honestly can't think of any real brushes with religion he's had during his short life.  So I wondered what he thought.

"God is the one who's in charge of everything," he told me, again supremely assured.

"Ohhhhh," I said.  (I was doing a lot of Ohhhing, because Jesus Christ, kid seemed a little strong for this particular situation.)  Then I asked, of course, where he'd gotten his information.  He told me he'd read about God and praying in Ramona the Brave.  So, okay, religion: Apparently it's a theme that recurs throughout the Ramona oeuvre.  I was surprised; I didn't remember any of that from my careful reading...which was, now that I think about it, thirty years ago.  Fine.  I admit it.  The proof is right there.  I have no idea what my kid is reading these days.  Probably Rage of Angels. No, worse: Ayn Rand.

Anyway, we had a nice little talk about God — the one in charge of everything — and praying — asking him to smite your parents for making you set the table every...single...night.  I got to trot out my "some people believe," and although I felt well prepared thanks in large part to the advice and perspective you all shared, he didn't care much about the particulars, didn't wonder about details, and didn't ask any questions about what Paul and I believe.

In fact, I'm not at all sure he grasped even the basics.  Because as I was turning out the light and leaving the room, he said to me with expectant relish, "I sure hope God does what I command."

...

Now that you've kindly seen to the disposition of Charlie's everlasting soul, can you please throw me your best Disney World tips?  I'll post about this at length later this week; because today's Tuesday, a day no strangers raise my children, I'll say in brief that we're going, and I'm intimidated — Beezus gay, what kind of vacation needs a system? — and I need all the help I can get.

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