**This post is not intended to offend anyone. Honestly. We are all entitled to our own beliefs; both religious and otherwise and I respect my extremely religious friends as much as I respect my atheist friends. And I am blessed to have both. Nor is it a criticism of our wonderful educators. —You’ve got to love blog posts that start off with a disclaimer like this one! Yikes!
Our kindergarteners came home from school on Thursday afternoon excited for Easter and the 4-day weekend that came with the holiday. Like any 4 and 5 year old children who are trying to figure it all out and navigate their way through this world, they are inquisitive and curious and ask questions about anything and everything. The car seems to be the place that most questions are unloaded… I suppose sitting still and having time to think allows for these thoughts to surface!
Why is popcorn white when corn is yellow?
Do wolves live near us?
How much water is in the ocean?
Is ranch dressing made at a ranch?
Why do some bees make honey and some bees sting?
Why do some kids have brown skin and black skin and red skin and white skin?
How tall are giants?
Why do some eggs have yolks in them and some have baby chickens?
Are monsters real?
How far away is the sun?
How do spiders go poop?
These are all questions that we have been asked recently. I am always amazed by how their brains work and how curious they are about the world around them. Some questions, we answer right away. Some we have to google. I suppose it’s never too early to teach our little ones to seek out information when needed, right? No one knows everything even if they make you think that they do. It’s okay to look up the answers. This is how we learn! Right?
A question that I should have seen coming but was not prepared to be asked over a banana bread Bear Paw snack at the kitchen table was…
Mama, Why is it called “Happy Friday” when Jesus was really hurt and died?
Right… It was “Stations of the Cross” day at school today. As my brain cells frantically fluttered around, trying to formulate an appropriate answer, I corrected my 5 year old, big-brown-eyed daughter by telling her it was “Good Friday,” NOT “Happy Friday” in order to buy some time. “Well it’s not good either,” she told me. “You’re right. It’s not good.”
To be honest, I am just realizing now that I never did answer this question. Because I had quickly realized why she was referencing Good Friday, we got in to a talk about Jesus, Easter and the stations of the cross. She and my 4 year old son, Mr. C opened their backpacks and proudly showed off the Stations of the Cross colouring sheets that they had worked on at school.
To be clear, I fully understand that putting my children in Catholic school means that they will be learning about the story of Christmas and the story of Easter and everything in between. I went to Catholic elementary and high school so these religious lessons are nothing new to me… However, seeing it through “Mama Bear” eyes instead of through “Baby Bear” eyes have caused me to view it a bit differently than I did as a child.
As parents, we want to protect our kids from the bad in the world. Children should be allowed childhoods filled with innocence and purity. We are cautious about the music that we allow them to listen to and the television shows that they watch. We turn off movies when they become too mature or too violent or the language is offensive.
Side note: We set our kids up with Disney’s Pinnochio for a family night about a year ago and we were blown away by the content in this movie that was suitable when Hubby and I were kids but was too inappropriate for our kids… Stromboli, a fully grown man, essentially kidnapping Pinnochio, beating him, locking him in a cage and forcing him to perform against his will for his captor’s monetary benefit, children and animals smoking cigarettes….what the…??
So, as a mom who doesn’t consider myself a ‘helicopter parent’ but is a mom who enthusiastically yells “Hey!” or “Woohoo!” over the inappropriate language that presents itself in some of the songs played during our kitchen dance parties, and as the mom who turned off Pinnochio so I didn’t have to explain cigarette smoking to my kids, it is a bit odd to see beautifully coloured colouring sheets of a man being tortured and violently murdered.
I sort of feel that the fact that we dismiss these types of Easter activities as normal, proves how desensitized we are to the details of the Easter story.
Hear me out…
There are LOTS of historical events that I want my children to know, appreciate and respect some day. But kindergarten isn’t really time. The war of 1812, the Holocaust, Martin Luther King’s “I have a Dream” speech are all life-shaping events that my kids need to learn…someday.
I know. It’s Catholic school and this is what we signed up for. My husband and I debated between Catholic and Public school for a long time before deciding on sending our children to Catholic elementary school. I was raised Catholic. He was not. I do not consider myself a practicing Catholic so that might make me a hypocrite for sending my kids to Catholic school. I have a lot of fond memories of Catholic school… learning about the Christmas story, receiving my First Communion, doing readings at school masses, going to the grade 8 S.C.O.E.P. retreat, etc. However, there are many parts of the Catholic faith that I do not agree with at all… the views on homosexuality being a huge one for me. The fact that in 2018, Catholic priests have to devote their lives to God and are unable to get married or have children is another.
Regardless, I believe that growing up and being educated in a Catholic school system taught me a lot about faith, religion and gave me a platform upon which to make my own decisions about what I believe in and what I do not. I can say that there are aspects of the faith that I do not agree with because I know enough about the faith to make an informed decision. Ignorance is not bliss. So, after much debate, my husband and I agreed to send our children to Catholic school so that they can have a base upon which to form their own decisions and thoughts about their own faith later in life.
I can honestly say that it is adorable to hear my children talk about Jesus like he is a child in their class at school and I’m not going to lie, it’s hilarious to see the reaction of my completely non-religious husband when our kids start chanting prayers and singing songs about God.
Getting back to the Easter lessons though…
As a society, are we actually desensitized to the harsh reality of the Easter story?
Are we so focused on educating our children on Christ’s sacrifice that we are exposing our kids to content that is far too mature for their little minds to handle or their parents and teachers to fully explain without confusing or terrifying them?
We just had to turn off Disney Pixar’s Monsters, Inc. the other night because my 5 year old found it to be too scary and didn’t have the patience to hold out long enough to discover that the monsters were actually sweet and kind. But then, I am turning around and explaining that “Good Friday” is the day that Jesus was crucified on the cross.
“What is crucified?” Is there a PG way to explain an absolutely extreme and gruesome, archaic form of human torture and murder? If so, I would like to know!
Again, I understand why they are learning the Easter story and can appreciate that the story is simplified for their young minds but at the same time… if my kindergarteners start learning about the Holocaust and bring home colouring sheets that illustrate the story of Hitler’s regime and the genocide of thousands of innocent people…HEADS WILL ROLL.
Is the Easter story any different, really?
Just a thought…