I grew up going to Sunday school. I enjoyed decorating the classroom windows with brightly colored tissue paper—a trailer park version of stained glass. I liked the apple juice and butter cookies at snack time. The rest—going into the big church to listen to the sermon and take communion—I merely tolerated. Then Mom made the mistake of signing me up for a Bible Study summer camp. The instructors had us discuss “familiar” stories from The Bible—stories that I’d never heard of because I was too concerned with my butter cookie to pay attention. I tried to fake it. But mostly I prayed to God to get me out of there so I could go play on the Slip ‘n Slide before the entire summer was buried under the heavy weight of theology.
I Outgrew Church
When I outgrew apple juice, butter cookies and Sunday school, I stopped going to church, with the exception of Easter and Christmas (I’m not a total heathen, and Mom would’ve cried if I didn’t join her). For 10 years my mother has been asking me if I’ve found a church to go to in Savannah, but I tell her that I just haven’t found the right fit. In truth, I’ve only been to one and the part that didn’t fit was that the service started on Sunday morning. And I would have to comb my hair.
I felt a little guilty after my daughter was born (I’m Episcopalian, so the guilt isn’t too bad). I wanted her to be exposed to some kind of faith early on and later she could decide for herself. She wasn’t getting it from me—I know Noah built an ark, I just can’t remember why and I know the “Paradise Lost” version of the Creation Story better than the one in The Bible. And my husband Ray is of no help. He is a good man, but he’d choose Chuck E. Cheese over church any day.
Last year we enrolled Ava into a faith-based preschool. I’d like to say that I did it to give her a leg up on Judgment Day, but the truth is, it’s conveniently located, the teachers are incredibly kind and all of our friends’ kids were already going there. At preschool, the students say a blessing before lunch and each Monday they have a 15-minute chapel session between snack time and potty break. My kind of church.
Only God Knows
It’s funny watching her 4-year-old brain process God. Last week, she stood on the reading-room stage in Barnes & Noble and in a preacher’s voice declared, “God is amazing!” Followed by, “Right Daddy?” I saw the panic in Ray’s eyes. I jumped in. “Right Daddy?” Ray smiled weakly, “That’s right.”All this God talk has helped me skirt some very difficult questions. For example, when Ava asked why her friend’s back is so hairy, I said, “Because that’s how God made her.”
And when she asks the inevitable question—how she was made—I reply, “God made you. He makes everything.” Then, she asked, “How do we get up to Heaven when we die?” I replied, “Only God knows.” Wash. Rinse. Repeat. This is too easy.
The God Route
The other night Ava asked Ray how books were made. He went into a 20-minute lecture on the various kinds of binding and printing techniques. I think he put her to sleep. I drifted off about the time he got to Gutenberg. Then there was a question about electricity. Another lecture. I’m thinking the God route is the way to go.
Science and Faith
Today, while washing her hands in the kitchen sink, Ava asks me, “Do you know where the water comes from?” “God?” I offer, hopefully. “No Mommy,” she says and opens the cupboard under the sink. She points to the pipes, “The water comes from outside, goes through the pipes in the walls, and up through this pipe into the sink.” Damn. Daddy may have won that round. But whoever said science and faith couldn’t mix?
About the Author
Andrea Goto writes The Culinary Coward, a monthly humor column for PaulaDeen.com about her struggle to become a domestic goddess, or more simply, to cook an edible meal. She writes her own Blog, Mom Without Makeup, which discusses the messy art of modern mothering. Andrea lives and writes in Savannah, Georgia, with her 4-year old daughter (who thinks she’s a superhero), her husband (who is a superhero) and one geriatric cat.