I have been hosting a homeschooled girl on Friday mornings (for about 3.5 hours ! ) to do art and play with my son. Her parents are extremely conservative Catholics, and the mom is pretty secure in it, since we’re as close to pagans as it gets in our conservative, respectable neighborhood.
At any rate, I think it’s sheer earnestness of parenting (and a rejection of the strange “mainstream” values that we see in this area) but I seem to have befriended lots of people from very different cultures. Our friends include an Egyptian friend who was made to go to British schools and a German convent school while growing up. A Singaporean friend who is a very passionate, artistic woman, who went to a British international baccalaureate degree-typed school (which she characterized as “harsh), who is very disciplined and driven to raise her children without pejorative strictures. A very nice wife of the local Russian Orthodox priest, who was homeschooling, but has now found a Russian Orthodox church 45 minutes away, at which she volunteers so that her children can be taught there. And our neighbor, who is Russian Islamic, married to a Persian, who homeschools, but is now sending her daughter (sometimes) to the same preschool where my son attends. It’s a nice area. We like all of these people and are learning a lot from them.
My son, of course, has received, instead of religious instruction while growing up, a good grounding in mythology and comparative cultures and religions. He can tell you about Scylla. Likes to play, as he used to call it, “feeseus and the minotaur,” has Ganeshes in the garden and a Buddha in the walkway, and so forth. The afterlife? Every time I think about the afterlife, I think of George Carlin’s views on religion. The result, of course, is that the my son's big knowledge about afterlife is that Cerberus lives there. Oh yes. And what he learned at “Lion King: the Musical.”
Last week (this is why I’m telling all this), I was rolling on the ground. He was in the back playing with his friend whom we’ll call Rosalind. As I came back, they were arguing. Strongly. “Mommy,” said my son. Rosalind says that there is only one God. I say that there are many!!!!”
“Oh dear,” I thought. “This is starting pretty darn early”
I managed to diffuse it by talking about context (last week’s lecture whilst locked in the carseat, BTW.) “That’s because you are talking about the Gods that different cultures have believed through the years. Rosalind is talking about her personal belief..”
Thank goodness that seemed to do it. Should be interesting when he decided to hammer out his own personal belief, though. I'm looking forward to it. Last year, he told me that our family worshipped Athena.
Rosalind, that same visit, informed us very seriously, that “dragons are much closer to demons than to heaven.” I snuffed that one out, telling her straightfaced that “some dragons are extremely good and do good for the world.”
The second interaction that made me laugh was today. They were playing with the cat and having one of those marvelous five-year old conversations. So adult, but so ... five. Rosalind, it seems, would love a cat but doesn’t have one. “You could get a rental cat,” said my son.
Five year old conversations rock.
BTW, from our archives.
Good Egyptian myths
What happens after death in Egypt
And a new find: The Heathen Handbook