Saturday, April 7, 2012

Happy Easter Eve!

First thing out of Katie's mouth this morning:

"Happy New Year's Eve, Mama!"

I had been sleeping, so it took me a second to realize what day it was and what the heck she was talking about. But I've lived with this kid for five and a half years now, so I'm fairly fluent in Kidspeak.

"Oh, you mean Easter Eve?" I said, rubbing my eyes.

"Yes! It's one day until Easter and today we get to dye eggs!"

The dogs began to whine, so I hauled myself out of bed to let them outside. When I returned, Katie was in her room searching for something.

"What are you looking for?" I held my hand up like a visor to shield her bright ceiling light from my half-asleep eyes.

"My pretend Easter egg from last Easter!"

"You still have that?"

"Yes! Somewhere..." She stood in the middle of her room with her pinkie finger at the side of her mouth.

After about two seconds of thinking, she gave up and sat on the bed. I sat beside her.

"Mama, I want to dye Easter eggs now!"

"No, you have to be patient. We have to wait for your cousins to get here this afternoon."

"I don't want to be patient. I want to dye Easter eggs now!"

"We have to wait. How would your cousins feel if we started without them?" I'm big on The Golden Rule of Parenting. Try to remind them how others will feel about their actions.

Katie was quiet for a minute as I sat with my arm around her. I was trying to wake up. I figured she was still trying to remember where she put last year's pretend Easter egg. After a long silence she spoke.

"Mama, do you know the real meaning of Easter?"

I braced myself to retrieve the information stored in the cobwebby closet of my mind. I rarely went to Sunday school as a child, so most of my biblical information comes from listening to my mom, who reads the Bible daily, paraphrase proverbs and other favorite stories. My mom also watches TV daily, so many of Mom's Bible stories ended in ways I recognized whenever I'd catch an episode of "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" or "Soap," great TV shows you wouldn't normally associate with biblical instruction.

I'm a big fan of Jesus and I quote his biographer's words often, but I've been burned by too many so-called Christian's words to use that label myself. Still, I want Katie to have an understanding of the mainstream culture around her even if we teach her to think for herself. And I want her to know about Jesus, The Prince of Peace, because I value the teachings attributed to him even if I'm cynical about the religion that sprung from his life.

"What's the real meaning of Easter?" I like to answer Katie's questions with questions. I used to do it because her answers were so cute, but now I do it because her logic is often more sound than mine.

Katie stood up as if she had an important announcement to make, "The real meaning of Easter is sharing candy with little children who don't have enough candy."

"That's true. And it's also about Jesus. Do you remember him?"

Katie nodded her head and smiled.

I continued, "Some people believe Jesus was born at Christmastime and he died and was resurrected at Eastertime."

Katie stopped me, "What's resurrected?"

"It's a rebirth. A new life. Some people believe he was killed--"

"Why?" Katie had the same look of concern on her face as she gets every time she begins watching the movie "Willow" and the Evil Queen orders the guards to kill Baby Princess Alora's mom. She sat next to me.

"Because the people in power didn't like him. Because Jesus said you don't have to listen to people in power, you just have to love everyone and treat everyone the way you would want to be treated. And the people in power didn't like that so they had Jesus killed. Then his friends and loved-ones put his body in a tomb--"

Katie stopped me, "What's a tomb?"

"It's like a cave where you bury people's bodies when they have died." I paused to see if any more questions were coming. There were none, so I continued, "But after three days, his friend Mary Magdalene went to his tomb and his body was gone. Then she found him walking around like he wasn't dead. She saw his body resurrect--"

Katie stopped me, "What's resurrect?"

"Be reborn. Live again. Like the trees and flowers outside. Just when we thought during winter they had died, they come back to life in the spring.”

Katie looked out her bedroom window into our back yard.

“So Mary Magdalene saw Jesus resurrect and go to Heaven to live with God. So that's why some people like to celebrate Easter. They think if you love Jesus when you die you will be reborn and live with Jesus and God in Heaven. So that's the real meaning of Easter." I caught my breath. I felt quite proud that I had remembered the story my mom told me years ago. Like a game of telephone, I suspected my version had its own bias, but I felt satisfied that Katie would have a better understanding of something so central to our society.

Katie jumped up from the bed and clapped her hands a couple of times. At first I thought she was applauding my performance, but then she spoke and I knew they were just claps of excited anticipation.

"Aaaaaaaaand, the real meaning of Easter is making sure all little children have enough candy!"

She definitely has a firm grasp on our mainstream culture.