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Childrearing

I Can’t Wait To Start Lying My Way Out Of Vacation Bible School

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I don’t know about all of the other states, but here in Texas, vacation bible school, or VBS, is a BFD. The signs start going up on our megachurches sometime around the end of April, and advertise such catchy offerings as:

Spoiler: this is neither international NOR a spy academy, sorry kids. And:

Which also looks totally bitchin’ if you happen to be between 6 and 12., which my kid and pretty much all of her friends happen to be. It’s also very appealing for parents, since its a billion percent free and also all day and all summer long. Despite the surface coolness of this set up, my daughter, unlike all of her friends (and I do mean all of her friends) won’t be going to VBS, and it will be up to me to lie our way out of it.

See, I live in a pretty small community. The type of community where “what church do you go to?” is considered perfectly acceptable small talk, and if you answer this question with an honest, “oh, we’re atheists,” eyes will widen and then very quickly dart down and then you’ll never see that person again. So I lie.

I lie a lot more in the summer when people start going house to house with VBS pamphlets asking us how many weeks we want to sign up for and wondering whether or not we’d like to host our own mini VBS in our backyard.

So why don’t I just tell the truth? Well, it’s kind of complicated. First, these are my friends, and yes, I can hear most of you saying that if they’re really my friends they won’t care. Which is fine and all, except that many of them have children that are also my daughter’s friends, and I’ve had people yank their kids out of her life just because we are atheists. So, no thank you.

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Second, I’ve tried more vague versions of the truth, like, “Thanks for thinking of us, but we aren’t Christian.” Which usually leads to more questions and potentially more lies if I didn’t suck at lying on the fly. So now I say stuff like, “Wow, that sounds neat but I think we’re going to be out of town that week” or “Golly, Spy Academy! Why, that sounds positively bitchin’ Mrs. McGillicutty but I’m busy all summer!”

It isn’t that I want to shield my daughter from religion. She’s been to mass, to holi, sat through a seder and all that jazz. But VBS, as adorable and innocuous as it sounds puts a huge emphasis on prosyletization, something I’m not sure she’s ready to approach rationally.

As long as we live in Texas, I am sure that the day will come that she will experiment with youth group, the gateway drug to young Republicans, and I’m fine with that. She’ll want to fit in. Maybe she’ll even find that it makes sense to her, that she finds solace in it, and that she truly believes. That’s fine, too. I would encourage her to pursue whatever path to spiritual health works for her.

I think that seven is still too young, though, and I would prefer not to turn my daughter into a pariah or someone’s new conversion project just because I want to take a moral stance on being myself and plaster a big “A” on my forehead.

So if anyone asks, we’re really busy this summer, sorry.

(Image: Cheryl Casey/Shutterstock)

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