Chase and I are not what you’d call religious, although we both come from Christian backgrounds. We don’t pray, we don’t go to Church, and we never authentically celebrate religious holidays (Christmas and Easter don’t count, unless you consider Santa and the Easter Bunny Christian icons). As a result, our children’s knowledge of religion is spotty at best.
Here’s what my 4-year-old daughter, Butterbean, knows about Jesus:
Church is a place where you make crafts, and then play with other kids for 2 hours while Mommy talks to her friends
When I was on mat leave with Sprout, I joined this amazing Moms’ group* that hosts weekly lectures with next-to-free childcare. It was amazing; I’d learn about hipster tea or parenting techniques or sex toys (I’m not even making these topics up!), while someone else took care of my kids for 2 hours.
The Bean used to call moms’ group Church because the organization uses the meeting rooms/gym of a local Church for its lectures/daycare facilities. It’s been more than a year since we’ve been there, and the Bean still asks me when we can go back to Church.
Jesus created the world, and if something cannot be explained, it’s probably because Jesus likes it that way
If I can’t come up with an answer to one of Bean’s questions, I use Jesus as my standard response. Why is the sky blue? Because Jesus made the world and he likes the colour blue. Why did I eat the last chocolate? Because Jesus wanted me to. Why does mommy’s back hurt too much for a piggy back ride? Because Jesus doesn’t like mommy very much today. You get the picture.
I once, in a moment of frustration, asked the Bean why she does everything so slowly (and I mean everything. The kid is a master dawdler). She replied “I dunno. I guess that’s just how Jesus made me.” It made me laugh, and the only thing I could say was “well played.”
Jesus died and came back to life, making him the world’s first zombie
Butterbean has been obsessed with the crucifixion ever since a school friend of hers told her that he saw a picture of dead Jesus (I asked if it was a picture of Jesus on the cross, but the Bean couldn’t confirm, and I am left to my own conclusions).
She asked me how Jesus died, and I told her people nailed him to some wood and left him out in the sun, but that it was okay because he came back to life 3 days later. That’s when Chase chimed in and told her that his resurrection meant that Jesus was the world’s first zombie (just one that doesn’t eat brains). Bean took it pretty well (she is familiar with Zombie Jesus), but she asks about Jesus’ death all the time now.
The Easter Bunny employs an assistant, Zombie Jesus, to deliver candy
I know what you’re thinking; you’re thinking “I’m going to call Child Protective Services on these classless assholes right now,” but hear me out. We don’t do this anymore, really, but way back, when the Bean was just learning to speak, we thought it would be hilarious to have her tell people that Zombie Jesus comes on Easter morning. Here’s how the conversation used to go:
Us: Hey! Butterbean! Who comes on Easter?
Butterbean: The Easter Bunny.
Us: And who else?
Butterbean: Zombie Jesus!
Audience (Who Is Going to Hell With Us): [laughter]
We dropped the Zombie Jesus thing last year because the Bean was in school, and we didn’t want her (or us) to get in trouble for being… less than respectful. It’s probably a good thing we enrolled her in public school as opposed to Catholic like I had originally planned. So, yeah, there’s no need to call CPS; Zombie Jesus is barely on the radar at all anymore.
Clearly, Chase and I are terrible people, but I like to think we make religion fun for the kids. Surprisingly, we haven’t gotten into any pickles yet as a result of the Bean’s somewhat skewed version of the Lord. Our families might not explicitly agree with the whole Zombie Jesus thing, but they are mostly atheist folk who don’t care much one way or the other. And, up until we moved to the sticks, we had no religious friends to speak of.
HOWEVER, the problem now is that we actually have Christian friends – Christian friends who believe in God, attend Church on the regular, say grace, etc. etc. And those friends have kids. And those kids invite my kids to church with them, which is what happened this weekend.
We let the Bean go, too. We prepped her well (and avoided all mention of zombies). I told her that Church was like school and she wasn’t to speak out of turn or talk when the teacher was talking. In turn, she told me if she had a question, she would raise her hand and ask “the boss” (I really thought she might during the service). I was on edge all morning, expecting to get a call about heresy or something, but aside from asking my friend some questions about Jesus dying (no surprise there), Butterbean did really well. She liked the kids and the crafts and the singing. I like that she had a good time, and that we had a 3 hour break from each other.
*I so badly want to link to the moms’ group, but given the context of this post, it’s probably best that I don’t. However, if you’re in the Toronto area and you’re interested, message me and I’ll send you their website.