Tuesday, February 21, 2006

For Now

A few days ago A. and I went grocery shopping. Not a minute into the ride she casually asked, "How did God get created?" Still reeling a bit from her recent car ride question, "How did the world get made?" (see lost post) and an overwhelming desire to make up a creation myth of my own using characters from her favorite fairy realm book series and Harry Potter, I didn't know what to say. I asked her if it would be all right for me to think about the answer for a few minutes. She said, "fine." After about a minute of silence she asked, "What do you have to think about?" at which point I decided I'd better come up with something.

I've gone the route of "I don't know" or "Some people believe.." or "Some things can't be explained..." or "Not everyone believes in God..." before with Aidan and she has seemed receptive, understanding of the ambiguity. But I'm the one scarred by these answers. They make me feel incredibly guilty, like why would a parent tell her kid that God might not exist when really, in so many ways, it is easy and comforting to believe in God. Religion can give her answers that I can't. It can provide her a kind of comfort that I can't. This I can admit, though I find religion, in general, stifling and narrowing and often existing far from the caring, giving, loving principles that are preached.

Yes, these discussions with Aidan are short and I realize that it would be difficult for me to mess up her life completely in the space of a few minutes. But it's not the few minutes that I'm worried about. It's the few minutes plus the few minutes plus another few minutes over time until she's a grown woman and beyond that worry me. My child is trying to make sense of her world, this world, and she's looking to me for answers. When I ask her why she wants to know about something she'll confidently answer, "I just look around and see things and then I ask questions about what I see." It's simple for her. She sees things and wants answers. So then why do I have to go and complicate it all?

The truth--I don't know whether or not I believe in God. Sometimes I do, sometimes I don't--depends on the day. And I definitely don't believe in the traditionally bearded, robed white guy. Maybe God's a woman or a fairy or a unicorn or a dementor or Darth Vader. Maybe God's a light saber or a moon or purple or red. Maybe God is the geranium growing in my kitchen window or the ice crystals that form on the inside of our windows in winter. Maybe God manifests him or herself in the form of a toy backhoe being played with by a little boy or yarn being knitted into a sweater. Maybe God is Hello Kitty.

Another truth--I'm afraid to tell my children that I don't know or that I don't believe. I love these little creatures so much that it scares me, my fierce desire for them to be warm, comfortable, loved, safe, a feeling that keeps me awake at night. So if they want to believe in God in the very traditional or nontraditional sense, who I am to take this away from them, to upset the delicate balance and equilibrium of their lives? Maybe they'll need religion in a way that I don't. Maybe they'll be people needing answers like I do not. They are extensions of Tad and me. But they are not copies of us and I am constantly being reminded of this. They will make their own decisions--and they may choose differently from the ways we have. And this has to be o.k.--in the simplest sense of what o.k. is.

I did answer Aidan's question, if briefly. We talked about God for at least five minutes. I told her that some people believe in him or her and that some people don't. She immediately responded by saying, "Mom. Silly. God is a boy. Don't you know?" To which I said, "Well....God might be a girl. Why do you think he's a boy?" "Because I've seen pictures of him in a book." And then, with slight hesitation, "But I don't like the way the author drew him. I'd make him with curly hair and wings and lots of colors and something around his head. I think he's just like a fairy but a little more different. And he lives in the sky where he can fly around all of the time, like Santa Claus."

Maybe God is a fairy princess Santa Claus, flying around granting wishes, making magic, giving a Few gifts. And I'm o.k. with this. My child is o.k. with this. We're both o.k. with this. For now.

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