Friday, January 12, 2007

"Can I Bring My Baby Jesus?"

We’re a religious family—I’m not embarrassed to admit that. We want our kids to have faith, good morals, and yes, we want them to believe in Jesus. But I have to admit, Leah’s recent evangelical tendencies have made even me a little uncomfortable.

First it started with a Satan obsession; she became preoccupied with making Satan angry. I should give the girl credit; at 4-years old her ability to reason was sound.

Premise 1: Jesus wants us to make good choices.
Premise 2: Jesus is happy when we make good choices.
Premise 3: Satan wants us to make bad choices.
Conclusion: Satan is angry when we make good choices.

Not bad. But I first became a little self-conscious when Leah began announcing triumph over evil in very public places: grocery stores, the doctor’s office, and recently, in a movie theater.

“Satan is angry,” Leah said.

“What, honey?” For a minute I pictured Linda Blair tied to a bed in “The Exorcist.”

“Kaleb shared his candy with me,” she said. “So Satan is angry.”

“Good job, Kaleb,” I said, hoping to steer the conversation away from the antichrist.

“Satan is very angry,” my generally soft-spoken Leah bellowed.

I promise, I don’t brainwash my children with angry-devil mantras and nursery rhymes about the nature of sin. And speaking of sin, that’s another topic Leah favors of late. At first, she called it “Syd,” thinking that “sin” and “Syd” (the bad kid in the movie “Toy Story”) were synonymous.

“Making a bad choice is a ‘Syd’,” she would say (sounds like she has a cold, doesn’t it?).

“What, honey?” I first asked.

“Like hitting, kicking, pushing, biting. Those are ‘Syds’,” she said.

“Oh,” I said, stumped at first. “Oh, sin, you mean,” I said, finally getting it.

“Yeah, ‘Syd’,” she said. “Satan is happy when we ‘Syd’.”

Sometimes you just gotta let it go.

But recently our Christmas tradition has moved us into a whole new realm of the gospel according to Leah. We do the nativity on Christmas Eve. And as in years past, we borrowed one of Leah’s dolls to “play” Jesus. Leah was Mary, Kaleb was one of the three kings, and Zack was a runaway Joseph. We moved through the production rather quickly, but a few things did stick. Leah now calls her baby doll “Jesus.” It feels just a tad blasphemous, but like “Syd” I let it go. Until last week when she insisted on bringing her baby Jesus to the store.

“Why can’t I bring Jesus?” she cried, her doll now stranded on the kitchen table as I buckled Leah into her car seat.

“Because,” I nearly whispered as a neighbor passed our house on his walk. “Jesus isn’t allowed at the store.”

“But I want Jesus to come,” she said, nearing hysteria. But Jesus or not, the “No Toy” rule still had to stand.

I listened to her cry all the way to Albertson’s and asked myself who’s happy now? Jesus or Satan?

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