When Mommy Knew Everything

The first seven years of our marriage religion was a nonissue.  We were newlyweds, then new parents and we came from families where religion wasn’t important.  We were busy, and we never gave it a second thought.

I don’t remember a specific time when they were very young that I talked to my children about god, and I certainly don’t ever remember talking to them about hell.  At that time we were going to the church of Disney—the videos were on endless loop at our house.  The conversation must have happened some time, but I honestly can’t think of when.  I do recall M being particularly freaked out by the witch in Snow White, but Satan?

M was in Kindergarten when I got a call in the middle of the day from her teacher.  She told me M was crying, and had been for a while.  She was inconsolable, and the teacher felt I should try to come to the school to calm her down.  M was never an overly emotional child.  In fact, she was and still is rather the opposite; she’s a pleaser and never rocks the boat or demands excessive attention.  The teacher admitted she was worried about M, for she had never seen her behave like this.  “Ok,” I said, “What prompted her becoming this upset?”  The teacher stated she felt it was best if I came in, rather than discussing it on the phone.

I hung up and went.  (Would I do that today?  Hell no, I would demand an explanation at once, but a lot has changed in 13 years.  Remember, I was a pretty new mom back then.) We only lived two blocks from the school and M was still crying when I got there.  She hugged me hard around the neck and immediately asked me, “Mommy, you know everything, right?”  She then launched into a story about how Marcie, another little girl in her classroom, had told M she was going to be sent to hell by Satan because she didn’t go to church on Sunday.  M said she argued with Marcie and told her there was no such thing as hell, and that her mommy told her so and her mommy knows everything.  Marcie told M that no, I didn’t know about this.  Satan was real and was going to get her.

This started the crying.  I remember looking at the teacher with steam coming out of my ears.  “You let this conversation happen?”  I growled.  She said she didn’t feel she could say anything to the girls one way or another, so she called me in so I could deal with it. 

I was ridiculously pissed, but I picked up M, squeezed her hard and told her, “Yes, about this I do know more than Marcie or her church.  There is no hell and there is no Satan.  It’s just a story to scare little girls.” 

How wonderful were those days when that was enough.  M crawled down, wiped her tears and went on her merry way. 

Looking back, I do find it interesting that she was the one who pushed our family to begin to attend the UU church years later.


About Brick Window

A mother and an atheist--Just trying to do the best I can in a suburb full of believers.
This entry was posted in Fear, Little Fundies, Unitarian Universalism. Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to When Mommy Knew Everything

  1. prosey says:

    At least it wasn’t your mother berating you for not telling your kids about heaven or hell, or providing them with “the comfort” of knowing that when they die, there is a wonderful place they go if they “just love Jesus”…

    …from my own mother. I’ve had battles with teachers in the past, and one was particularly pointed when my oldest was in kindergarten and he was telling his teacher (in front of me, while I was pregnant with my daughter) that his mommy had a baby in her tummy. The teacher corrected him (again, right in front of me) that, “No, your mommy doesn’t have a baby in her tummy, or else every time she ate spaghetti, the baby would have noodles on its little head. Your mommy has a baby in a special place called a womb…” I cut her off right there and told her, “How dare you correct him, when I am the one who told him *tummy*?” She said to me, “Well, he should be learning correct…” I interrupted her again, saying, “Well, if you’re going to be correct about it, stuff the religious terminology (I was still a Christian at that point, btw) and actually use anatomically correct terminology like UTERUS?” She said, “Well, that isn’t precisely age-appropriate…” I said, “Neither is presuming to correct a parent in front of her child …particularly with religious term…” She kinda demurred at that point. This is the same teacher who, due to intense migraines, had extensive absences — then told her students, by way of explaining migraines, that “they feel like someone is driving huge nails into my skull”…

    Yeah…good times, good times…memories. You & I could probably swap some serious war stories…but standing my ground to teachers when they were wrong, and defending the teachers when I knew my “little angels” weren’t – has served me well in terms of trust with my kids and respect from their teachers. Against other students, though, as in the situation you present here…a bit tougher, for sure.

    My daughter has had a few issues (esp on the bus) because she’s atheist and some of the things that have been said have led me to call the school to remind them that their bullying policy applies to transportation…not just the school premises. Now that my older sprouts are thinking for themselves and speaking for themselves, I’m in the entertaining process of teaching my daughter that “a word to the wise is unnecessary, and the same word will fall on deaf ears when dealing with fools.” 🙂

  2. Brick Window says:

    Pros…you got that from your mom? Oh no, I’m sorry. And the Womb story: so funny to imagine you all swollen with baby, giving it to the teacher. Seriously, who uses ‘womb’?

    I was just having a conversation with a friend about Mommy Bears. I don’t think I am one at all. I usually let my kids work stuff out unless it’s really bad (but I can’t think of a situation off hand where I have.) I never requested a teacher, and when they had a bad one, I just made them deal. Hey, it makes for lots more entries, right?! 🙂

    H has had run-ins on the bus, too. She had a big one in sixth grade. Iwill have to ask her for the details later when she gets home, because I don’t remember it well. I love your quote. I think it needs to go on my FB Wall. Ya give me something once again, girlfriend!

    • prosey says:

      *nod* Yeah, but to be fair to mom…her mental illness contributes to her dogmatic ideology. *sighs* I could tell some stories that would curl your toes. From my own childhood…issues with my son…issues with my daughter (through me, though…since I learned from her working my son when he was little)…and she WON’T have the opportunity with the baby. I love her *dearly*, but I don’t play those games and my kids aren’t tools or weapons for her to wield against me.

      Yeah, I was a LOT younger…and quite a lot mouthier…add in the hormonal temperament…*laughing* I was just SO pleasant, I’m sure. 😉

      I give quotes that are meant to be shared…I don’t believe in hoarding them. *hugs*

  3. fribnit says:

    interesting story.

    I was told I was going to hell by a classmate ( I was 7 or so) because I was Jewish and his daddy told him that only Christians go to heaven.

    SO I belted him.

    Boys handle things differently.

    We live in an area where many people go to Church every Sunday but no one much cares what anyone else does. Lucky that way I guess.

    I see so much harm done by the belief in god and Satan that one could make the argument that Satan does exist and he invented god to screw up the world.

    By the way, I can not find a reference that indicates that womb is a biblical term. Informal yes, but it comes from old Nordic languages (vomb) and Ancient Swedish (Vamb) used before Christianity made it to northern Europe. I do realize it was used in the bible of course but in the English translations. As the word Uterus is Latin in origin I suspect that the Christian bible in Latin uses some for of that word (Uten) for the same passages. Just an observation. I prefer tummy to either term for youngsters.

    • prosey says:

      Interesting point of note about “womb” ~ for reference, in the NIV it is referred to as “womb”, where in the KJV, it is referred to as “belly” (a distinction of which I was aware, and its usage by many churches is in reference to the NIV…

      …I prefer belly for little ones, too, rather than confuse them with a lot of jargon that is beyond their comprehension, since at that age, they don’t think in the abstract. 🙂

  4. fribnit says:

    still think that teacher was a jackass. If’n I was you I would have driven the nails in her head myself

  5. Brick Window says:

    I tried to get my girls to use the actual words, like uterus. They did sound pretty silly, I confess, looking back at it. oh well. Live and learn. Now? I try to use anatomical language, but I end up saying the words they use.

    • fribnit says:

      Mrs. Miller, the first grade teacher started each new year off asking the student to talk about their summer vacations.
      This year the first student was Bobby. “we went to visit my grandma and we took a cho-cho”. The teacher said that is very nice Bobby but we are in first grade now, we say Train.

      The second student was Patty. “we went to the mountains and we saw farms and on the farms we saw Moo-Moo’s” the teacher said That’s nice Patty but in first grade we say COW.

      The third student was Charlie. Charlie was a bright boy and he was determined that Mrs Miller would not have to correct him. “We went to Disney world and saw Winnie the Shit”

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