Friday, April 10, 2009

Good Friday

It’s a good Friday, all right, since my darling husband let me sleep in past 9. This never happens because 360 days of the year David wakes at 5am, so that he can work on his novel for 2 or so hours before coming home to help me get the kids out the door at 8, and then getting himself to work by 9. It is a good arrangement because he gets to devote ample time to his writing and still gets to bring home the bacon from the slaughterhouse of corporate America (hey, I’m not disparaging, that shit puts a roof over our heads). It is a bad arrangement because neither of us ever gets to sleep in. We are both always exhausted, and consequently, we are both always cranky.

But this morning was different. This morning, we are at my parents house in New Jersey and there’s nowhere close-by for David to go to write – no bagel shop around the corner populated at 5am with older gentleman talking about the Yankees and asking each other “What’s that you said?” ad nauseam. In New Jersey I can sleep in. Today ‘til 9:30am. I literally had no idea where I was or what was going on when I woke up. I felt as though I had crawled out from under a hundred tons of volcanic rock. How much does it suck that when you are so chronically under-rested, you actually feel worse on the rare occasions when you get to sleep late? But now, hours later I feel GREAT! I’ve got a bounce in my step, and I bush in my tail. No, that’s not right. You get the idea.

The point is, folks, it is Good Friday. I went to church on Sunday, that’s Palm Sunday, if you’re keeping tracking, and I guess I haven’t been in a while because I was surprised to find that it was time to read the Passion. I didn’t have the kids with me, which almost never happens, but I’d forgotten what day it was until my grandmother called to remind me at 9:27am and there was only 3 minutes to make it to church, significantly less time than it takes to get two undressed, uncooperative children out the door. It takes me three minutes to put one sock on Seconda, on a good day. So I flew solo. And when we started the Passion I thought it was maybe a good thing I did.

Because I don’t have the slightest idea how to explain the Passion of the Christ to my four year-old son. I don’t even know where to begin. Apart from anything else, it’s very violent, way beyond anything I’d ever let him hear tell about. He’s an anxious kid with an over active imagination and I try to keep the Star Wars, Pirate of the Caribbean, Power Rangers stuff at bay for the sake of his peace of mind. And also because, well, he’s four years old. He still can’t snap his pants. Until he can snap his pants and wipe his own ass correctly, he will not be watching, reading about or feigning gun fights or swordplay. Rule of thumb.

But the physical violence is the least of it. When we were in the Met a few months ago with one of his little friends, we were walking through the Christian Art, and passed a Pieta-like statue of Mary holding Jesus’ body in her arms. First Primo said, “Jesus looks like Daddy! They have the same beard.”

Then he asked if Jesus was dead in the sculpture. I said yes. And then he asked me:

“If he was so good, why did he have to die?”

Oh, man. I thought. Couldn’t I have been warned somehow that this question was gonna blow right here, right now? I mean, it’s a doozie that requires some prior thought. Plus, we’re in the middle of the very crowded Met and I feel like a crazy evangelical talking in public to my kid and his friend, who had never heard of Jesus before, about the big sacrifice. I think I said something about how he died so he could make heaven for us. Then I ushered him quickly to the Temple of Dender.

I’m happy that Primo’s asking these questions and its important to me that he be exposed to my faith. I mean, we’re no by-the-book Catholics, nor do I want us to be. Mine is very much an a-la-carte version of the religion, yes, please to the love and patience, no, thanks to the fear, the fire and brimstone. When he gets older, he can choose to believe in something different or nothing at all. It’s his choice -- I just want him to know he has one, that there’s something there to choose from.

So on Sunday, I’ll bring him and Seconda and David with his long beard to church and they’ll give out balloons and do a coloring page about the rock being moved from the entrance to the cave and Primo will undoubtedly wonder what it all has to do with the Easter Bunny. And it will be useful then to be the kind of mother than doesn’t mind saying, “I don’t know.” Which you better believe I am.