Christina M. Currie: Little devils
August 31, 2007
Craig — Seven-year-old Katie was excited to open her folder to show me all the work she’s done as a second-grader. Considering the fact that I made her redo all the problems she missed on her math assignment, I doubt she’ll be as forthcoming in the future.
Then again, the amount of gushing I did over the rest of her work might make up for it.
The class is studying insects, with an emphasis on butterflies, and the project Katie was most proud of demonstrated the transition from larvae to butterfly. She walked me through the stages, waiting while I pointed and said in that tone adults use a lot when talking to children, “and what’s this?” I said, expecting a slight stumble over the word “cocoon.”
There was some stumbling alright – all on my part. I mean, I had to look it up just to include it in this column. She had certainly one-upped me and reminded me, yet again, to never underestimate what your children are capable of.
Seriously, who remembers chrysalis? (If you’re one of those insufferable people who automatically thought “I do.” Well … hush).
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I am losing ground as the all-knowing parent, and I’m scared to death that my girls, 5- and 7-years-old, are going to figure that out sooner rather than later.
The number of times they leave me stuttering for an answer is already alarming.
We were driving home, the girls chattering in the back seat while I has half-listening, lost in thoughts of dinnertime and evening chores.
I was jerked out of my reverie by Katie’s heated, “You don’t have a God!”
I had no idea what was going on, and I wasn’t sure I wanted to know how we’d gotten to that point.
I caught up a little and listened, speechless and fascinated, as 5-year-old Nikki calmly stated, “I have to talk to my God.”
“YOU DON’T HAVE YOUR OWN GOD. EVERYONE HAS THE SAME GOD!” Katie all but screamed, her face reddening in response to a statement she couldn’t fathom.
Nikki held up her hand in “stop where you are” fashion and said in a low, even tone “Be quiet now, I have to pray to my God.”
Katie’s volume elevated another notch, her tone increasing in pitch, “GOD IS JUST ONE PERSON. HE’S FOR EVERYONE!”
Nikki covered her ears, said “My God’s a girl,” and then proceeded to mumble “blah, blah, blah” to block out whatever response her sister had forthcoming.
Vaguely, I wondered if all that blood in Katie’s head would cause her to pass out.
Keep in mind, I was just a spectator here. I hadn’t contributed anything but morbid fascination at this point, and I didn’t plan to. Those last few seconds before the car wreck, you don’t jump in to enjoy the ride.
It may seem cowardly on my part, but I wasn’t touching this one.
But there was nowhere to hide. Katie’s plaintive wail, “moooooommmm!” found me.
“GOD’S NOT A GIRL, IS HE?”
“Well … um. What do you think of spaghetti for dinner?”
I know, I know. It’s not that easy. I offered my two cents and explained that many people believed many different things when it comes to a divine power. I told them how important it is to keep an open mind in the face of other people’s beliefs and to explore and question and make their own decisions.
It was a beautifully crafted, succinctly delivered, politically correct theory that quieted Katie and had her nodding and saying, “I like spaghetti.”
Meanwhile, as I’m praying to my God that I don’t pass out from the blood in my head. I notice that Nikki is sitting quietly, a hint of a smile on her face.
A quick image passed through my head: my father, with that exact same smile and calm voice making a statement that’s so incorrect and far-fetched that my blood pressure shoots through the roof and leaves my stuttering for arguments. I have that same smile when I put out a statement meant to test another’s conviction.
I believe the term is “devil’s advocate,” and I thought while hearing Nikki say, “My God’s not listening to you anymore,” that there’s no term more apt.