I didn't even think about the whole religious component, honestly. I decided early that I didn't want to put my child in a daycare that didn't have a pre-k component that he would 'graduate' to. I wanted it to have a "classroom" feel - so the few more affordable daycares I looked into really didn't fit the bill. Then I started looking into some Montessori schools and children's academies and the price point was one that I just couldn't make. What was left? Church-run pre school. It's everywhere in my city.
I started looking into them and couldn't believe how affordable they were. There are about a half-a-dozen within five miles of my house. I went back and forth with a handful via email and decided on one last week. This morning, I took my son for a tour.
We got there and I immediately loved it. The building is large and clean. There are several classrooms of kids varying between the ages of 18 months and four years old. They were in the process of installing an art show and I was given a calendar of events. The kids were laughing and the teachers in each classroom seemed comfortable and happy. My tour guide suggested we bring my son into the classroom that would be his. It was story time.
He sat in the circle and looked pleased. He began to focus on the story, as did I; it was about Jesus. Okay. I hadn't really digested the fact that there would be Jesus-talk, but it's in a church so I assume it's something I should have thought more about. I have no problems with stories about Jesus. Jesus was an awesome guy. I've always planned on telling my son the story of Jesus - I plan to expose him to many religions.
At the end of story time, the group bowed their heads in prayer. Yikes. Again, I have no problem with prayer - but my son looked confused. I could see his little mind working, trying to figure out why their heads were bowed, but no one appeared to be moving toward a full-on nap time recline. He's familiar with feigning nap time for Gymboree. Now I'm feeling the pressure. How can I give him a crash course in prayer before next week? Do I need to find him another day care? What time is it? Who am I?
As you can see - there was not a whole lot of foresight that went into this. When I asked the guide, So, how religious is this curriculum? she looked a little confused. If I could read her mind, I would be certain she was thinking, We're standing in a church, you dipshit.
Here's the thing - I'm not against religion. I'm not against the Jesus figure, I'm not against people having something outside of themselves that brings them strength. Mine comes from inside - but it's certainly spiritual as well. There is a way to describe Jesus to kids. There are ways to describe different religions. But how do I describe to a three-year-old spiritual beliefs that don't fall in line with organized religion and its traditions?
Well, honey - next week you are going to start praying to this person some people call "Jesus." I've never told you about him because I'm lazy. He's really a great guy and some people think he existed and some people don't. I used to think he existed, but now I think that his teachings just fall in line with this universal truth - that for me happens to be: treat people well and realize that you are a spiritual being greater than the tangible things in this world and you are capable of existing in a realm of truth and light. Okay? We'll talk more about this later, but for now just bow your head when everyone else does and think about Lilo and Stitch or something.
I think the bottom line is - Jesus is cool and he's probably the least of my worries. As we were standing in the front office, my son got excited about all the art work on the wall and started describing it. When neither I or the guide looked over, he said: Hey! Shut up! Look over here!
(photo: dendiz/ Shutterstock)