Wednesday, October 14, 2009

God in your Sippy Cup

We were sitting around the breakfast table yesterday, when the conversation, as it often does, drifted towards the metaphysical: is God everywhere?

All the kids knew, from their years at Jewish pre-school, followed by (for Erika and Hilary so far) Sunday School, that God is, in fact, everywhere.

Is God in the kitchen? Yes, He must be in the kitchen.
Is God at the table? Yes, He must be at the table.
Honestly, I was only half-following this conversation, so I don't know which of the kids then shrieked: "God's in your sippy cup!"

And it occurred to me, not for the first time, that Jewish pre-school is kind of like a cult. The kids come in Godless heathens, and graduate true believers.

I'll never forget one day, when Erika was about three, and she and Hilary, who was one, were playing with a toy kitchen. Erika laid out quite a spread for her sister, but just as Hilary reached to pick up a plastic treat, Erika cried out, "Wait! We have to say the blessing first!"

Of course, we as parents have chosen to enroll our children in this preschool specifically for the brainwashing, I mean religious education, they are receiving there. And it is important to me that my kids understand their culture, and the history and traditions which have shaped their parents, and their grandparents, and their ancestors before that.

But then the kids come home singing about how tight they want to hug their Torahs, and I have to admit, it seems a bit extreme to me.

The God part, that's hard. I'm not really sure what I believe about God at this point in my life, but the kids are always trying to pin me down: Does God make babies? Does God make cities? Does God love mean guys?

And my personal favorite: Do you love God?

The kids are pretty easy to distract now, but I assume that won't always be the case. Still, I suppose that the older and more persistent they get, the better they'll be able to appreciate that God is complicated, and personal, and that each of the 12 people in our family will probably have a different relationship, or lack thereof, with that most abstract of abstractions. And no matter what conclusion each of them arrives at, it's all okay.

Except for dancing around with the Torahs. At some point, I'm really going to have to put a stop to that.

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