I gather that my fellow Patheosi have been talking about catechesis and whatnot while I’ve been…what’s the euphemism? Not playing with a full deck? A bit whimsical in the brain-pan? Mad as a friggin’ hatter? Well, whatever it is, here’s everything I know about catechesis, to illuminate the ongoing conversation.
Tonight I was reading a story to Liam that started with, “I wish I lived a thousand years ago…” Suddenly Sienna piped up and said, “Mom, NO! No, you DON’T wish you lived a thousand years ago, I PROMISE YOU!”
I looked up at her and said, “Sienna, it’s just a story.” Unmoved from her passionate exegesis against the year 1014, she continued insisting that I would NOT have wanted to live a thousand years ago, that in fact, NO ONE WOULD (hyperbole hysterics and italicized exclamation marks!!!!!!!!)
“Okay, Sienna,” I sighed, knowing that we’d never finish the story until she finished her rant (she is, after all, my daughter). “Why would I have SERIOUSLY NOT wanted to live a thousand years ago?”
“Because, Mrs. Fox said, that a thousand years ago, and this is REALLY HAPPENED, because IT’S IN THE BIBLE” (here I briefly considered making her stop speaking until she had read this blog post and copied it out in longhand and along with an exposition on the difference between factual events and truth, but her words were overlapping in hysteria, so I just kept listening) “BOYS got ALL THEIR FATHER’S LAND and EVERYTHING HE HAD. So like, if we lived back then, Liam would get ALL OF AVE MARIA.”
I had to interrupt her here, because her concept of ownership was so grossly flawed, but she skipped right over my attempt to explain that actually Liam would get whatever scraps of furniture he could scavenge after Sallie Mae swept through like the proverbial vulture and said, “yeah Mom okay but that’s not the important part anyway. The important part is that the BOY would get A SPECIAL BLESSING FROM GOD, FROM ACTUAL GOD, LIKE THE REAL GOD.”
She stopped and looked at me expectantly.
I looked back at her.
She looked at me.
I looked at her.
Finally I cracked. “Okay, kid, but why is that so horrible? Why would I hate for Liam to get a special blessing from God?”
I wanted her to realize that her narrative was fundamentally flawed and have a come-to-Jesus moment with me about storytelling, but instead she just said, “because the girls don’t get anything.”
I figured I should just give her the satisfaction of electrified indignity so we could get on with the story, since Liam was starting to nod off at my side, so I said, “Oh that is AWFUL. I cannot imagine how awful it would be to live in such an unfair world, where the girls get nothing.”
Much to my surprise, she just looked at me with a quizzical expression.
“What?” I said. “Don’t you think that’s unfair?”
She shook her head. “Well, not really. I mean, girls can do lots of cool stuff boys can’t.”
I was actually electrified for a moment, shocked by the knowledge that my 8-year-old actually had wisdom beyond my own at that age, or any age, for that matter.
“Like what?” I said.
“Well, like girls can do handstands, and boys can’t do them very well, plus girls can do splits, and boys can’t, because they have a [here she theatrically mouthed the word “penis” accompanied by overly exaggerated pointing] between their legs.”
“So, Sienna,” I said, biting my lip and trying furiously not to laugh, “you’d rather be able to do the splits than get a special blessing from God?”
“Well, yeah,” she said, like I’d just asked if the sky had always been blue. “Who wouldn’t?”