Sometimes parents avoid their children’s questions. There are myriad reasons for this phenomenon…fatigue, discomfort, lack of maturity on the part of the child, lack of maturity on the part of the parent, and on and on.
My parents rarely, RARELY did this. Even my father answered questions about sex (which made me want to puke – and him, too, probably, but he did a good job covering it up if it did.) I’ll never forget one of our trips in the car. It was on a Friday night, if memory serves, when we were driving to his job of playing organ in a synagogue in New Jersey. The conversation went something like this:
Me: So, do ALL animals give birth?
My Dad: (cool as a cucumber, as always) Well, all mammals. Every mammal has a male with a penis that fits into a hole in the female called the vagina…
No, my parents NEVER dodged the tough questions. The important ones, anyhow. Which makes this one time so puzzling. We grew up listening to the music of Jesus Christ Superstar and watching the movie (same with Godspell,) all throughout elementary school. So, even though we were a Jewish family, Jesus held a particular interest for me. So one day, I asked my dad, “Did Jesus Christ actually exist?”
My Dad: Oh, yes. He was a real person, definitely.
Me: How do they know???
My Dad, without skipping a fraction of a beat, answered the following:
(are you ready?)
(really. he said that.)
Being only in elementary school, I remember being satisfied with that answer at the time. I thought, “Hunh. I’ve heard they keep dental records forever. I think I’ve heard something about them being used to identify remains. I guess that makes sense.”
I am about to make myself extremely vulnerable to my reading audience when I say, it was years – YEARS – before it occurred to me that he had been yanking my chain. I swear to god, I went through my entire high school and COLLEGE years never giving another thought to how people know Jesus was a real person. I can’t even say for sure that I didn’t REPEAT this completely seriously to other people. I hope to god I didn’t but, hey, I can’t swear to it.
I’m pretty sure I was in my early twenties before it occurred to me I might have been had. I don’t remember the precise moment, but I do remember being thankful it wasn’t at my Master’s Thesis defense or in front of a classroom full of 8th-graders when the reality dawned on me. Because my face probably looked something like this:
while I said – OUT LOUD – “DAAAAAAAA—–AAAAAAAADDDDDDDDD!!!!!! JESUS DIDN’T HAVE DENTAL RECORDS!!!!!!!!!”