It's my fault, I know, for putting my kid in a Catholic school.
Ainsley has become very...well...Jesus-y.
Oh, settle down. I'm not saying that's a bad thing. It's just a little disconcerting for me to have a child who is so sweetly devout when I regularly fall off the religion wagon.
For two weeks earlier this fall, she wanted Jason to read from her children's illustrated bible every night instead of reading Junie B. Jones. She sat down one afternoon last week with some notebook paper and said she was going to write a story; when she proudly showed me her work later I was expecting to read about Troy and Gabriella and the rest of the High School Musical crew and instead read about Adam and Eve and why they were kicked out of the garden.
Yesterday I was doing housework and started hearing a low muttering coming from the bedrooms. It sounded like an adult voice and had the monotone rhythm of a chant. I was a little scared until I saw Ainsley sitting at her desk praying her little plastic rosary. Then I was a lot scared. Kids chanting religiously make me have Children of the Corn flashbacks.
I, too, was a fairly religious kid. We weren't big on actually going to church in my family, but church came to us after we got cable in the form of the Trinity Broadcast Network and Jim and Tammy Fay. Mom took most of it as entertainment rather than education, but I was young and impressionable. My grandmother had also bought me a book of illustrated (sometimes gruesomely) bible stories from some proselytizing Jehovah's Witnesses that I devoured and turned to over and over again, partly for the gruesome pictures. The destruction of Sodom was particularly gory. And fascinating.
But my mom, for all her evangelical roots, was pretty good at tempering the religious ferocity I was seeing on Christian TV. She gave me her own rather tolerant take: respect other religions, because as long as someone is a good person who doesn't harm other people that person is a child of God who won't be punished in the Christian idea of hell whether they believe in Him as we do or not; a little alcohol, a little dancing, and a little makeup are not the huge sins some of the fundamentalists would have you believe; money is the root of most of the world's evil. That last one was why she quit the Jim and Tammy Fay show; she had a hard time believing anyone who asked for that much hard-earned money to build a Christian waterpark was on the level.
I haven't been the same since the Philosophy of Religion class I took my freshman year in college. I wandered in a kind of spiritual daze for years after that class, questioning the existence of all the things I was raised to believe in: the afterlife, the father, the son, and the holy ghost. Eventually the solemnity of the Catholic mass drew me back into the Christian fold, but I don't buy every single thing the church sells me. I consider myself a hybrid; I mostly run with the Catholics, but I have held onto a little Protestantism and even adopted some beliefs of other non-Christian faiths. I go months at a time without my shadow darkening the church doors because of one thing I hear in a mass that doesn't sit particularly well with my more spiritually informal and liberal leanings.
But now I've got this kid who will be well and thoroughly indoctrinated in Catholicism.
Her current fount of religious knowledge has to do with heaven and hell and who goes to the one and who goes to the other and what heaven is like.
"Daddy, do we get to eat all the sweets we want in heaven?"
"I don't know. I don't know if you eat at all in heaven..."
"I bet they'll have those one rolls with the white stuff on top and the sticky stuff on the bottom."
"Yeah, cinnamon rolls!" She dreamily put her chin on her hand. "I bet they have cinnamon rolls in heaven because when I eat them now I think, 'Ah...heaven.' "
First of all...If I'd known she thought so highly of Pillsbury cinnamon rolls, I would have made them for her more often. Secondly...
"Daddy, will you and mommy be in heaven, too?"
There's the rub.
"Should I be worried?" I asked Jason later. "Is she going to grow up and someday tell me I am going to hell because I vote Democrat and like to sleep in on Sundays take the Lord's name in vain and gossip and sometimes believe God is more like the Force than like an old man in a long, white beard? Should we reconsider this whole Catholic school thing?"
He looked back toward her bedroom where her religious questions had been silenced by the High School Musical 3 soundtrack and where our little angel was currently getting her groove on.
"I think she will be just fine. She's your kid, after all. Just let her be."
True. But just in case, I am going to make her some cinnamon rolls this weekend. I can't be too much of a sinner if I make her some heavenly little treats...