There is a gilded statue of Joan of Arc that my son sees everyday from his school bus.
He asks, and I tell him the truth.
She was a religious fanatic who was burned alive.
He wants to know more, and I struggle with how to expand. We haven’t had the religion conversation yet. I decide it can wait until he learns there isn’t an actual Santa Claus that comes down the chimney, an Easter Bunny that hides plastic eggs, or a tooth fairy that buys his teeth while he sleeps. So I distract with another topic.
After I tell him the truth and effectively end his belief in magic, then I’ll introduce him to religion and explain that it is for adults that still want to believe in Mr Claus, Mr Bunny, and Ms Fairy.
Giants got to live somewhere.
The churches we pass, the impressive ones, I’ve suggested might be castles and homes to giants with their massive doors and impressive spires.
It’s a canary in the coal mine for when he’s getting too old for the lies. When he questions the giants I’ll know he’s ready for me to ruin Christmas.
Don’t enshrine the truth in a house of lies
He was very patient this last weekend at a shrine of some kind where some old dude in a weird hat wished him luck in life for a bunch of money. At least I hope it was luck, the man’s droning in Japanese I don’t think was understandable even to native speakers. I couldn’t even catch my son’s name “Yuri” or “Yurick”.
I explained to him the event was to get some cool pictures, but that’s a partial truth. It is a once in a lifetime Japanese cultural rite of passage and pseudo Shinto-Buddhist thing. Religion again and I avoided talking about it.
I should have taken the opportunity to explain faith sans Christianity and then caution him that it’s something people are very sensitive about. He’s familiar with political correctness. I’ve already warned him not to compare people to animals, or to mention that girls cry more.
A great sensitivity example was when the old man in the funny hat hurried over to me with a smile that would do a Jehovah Witness proud and said that while stretching is good I shouldn’t have my butt turned towards the front of the room.
To that I said, “Why?”
He mumbled something. It was English, but the word order was confusing and the meaning lost to me. This wasn’t an English as a second language thing. The guy could speak English fine. I think he was just shocked by my question.
To be polite I pointed my butt towards the wall and cracked my back, and then I wrestled around with my son on the tatami mat.
Darn, while forcing him to submit would have been a great time to explain the truth about religion. Another missed opportunity.
I guess I’ll still have to decipher his letter to Santa that’s sitting in the fireplace.
The Big Boy Conversation
He knows how babies are made, basically. He knows that meat comes from emotional animals that are slaughtered, often inhumanly. He knows we are all going to die, eventually.
A lot of details remain, but only a few big truths.
“Without Santa it is still Christmas.” I’ll say that to him, but it’ll be less.
How much can really fit into that five-year-old head of his?
At the hotel we stayed in near the good luck no butt shrine, he watched the “war” channel. Nothing else really interested him. World War II in black and white or old men in chairs was the most fascinating thing for the kid out forty-some channels.
He likes reality. It gets rid of his hiccups and expands his mind. How can I deny him any bit of truth I know? Except that lies and the influence of perception have their own shade of truth.
What kind of intolerant man would he grown into if he looked down on anyone following a faith or believing a magic trick was real? I’m not Jango Fett. I don’t need a son in my image.
Five is still young enough for lies.
Ok, I’ve decided.
Santa Claus will survive the winter.