“Mama, you know what’s the truth?” the Boy asked me today, out of the blue as I was washing the dishes.
“What’s ‘the truth’, dear?”
“God doesn’t exist.”
“Hmm?” (caught by surprise by these words). “Now where did you hear that? Did somebody tell you that?”
“Nobody. I just know.”
After a little bit of questioning, I finally figured out that it was the Beloved Husband who had told the Boy that, even as he (BH) admitted that some people believe in the existence of God. (“You understand that, right? That for some people, God does exist.” “Yes, I know that.”) So there was always that door still left open for the Boy.
The interesting thing is, both kids have been very open-minded to the idea of God, and religion, since our trip to Vancouver last fall. That was when my parents took all three of us to Sunday church services and Bible study groups for a month, and tried to impress on the kids that believing in God and going to church were “the right thing” to do. Even if we are not a church-going family, I’ve tried to keep them open to the idea that they can believe anything they want to believe, and not necessarily what we (their parents) believe or don’t believe.
At first, when we went downstairs to Sunday school (since we were visitors, I was given a special pass to accompany the kids), he seemed shy and reluctant. By week two though, he was joining in during the songs, and getting the hand gestures right, even if he didn’t understand the language (service was not being conducted in English). By the end of our B.C. stay, he was gently (and sometimes not-s0-gently) reminding his sister to say grace before every meal. His big sister, meanwhile, ever the obliging and studious one, had learned the Ten Commandments, even if she didn’t understand it all. And both had patiently sat and watched Christian videos for kids, while at the home of one of my parents’ friends. So when we came back to our home, both kids were eager to let their father know everything they had learned about Christianity (which wasn’t much, but was a start). And when they asked why we didn’t go to church, and I told them about Buddhism, they sat and listened to that too.
True, within a month, both of them had completely dropped grace from their mealtime routine, and within six months, were questioning the existence of God. But what made me proud of the kids wasn’t that they were blindly accepting what their parents or their grandparents or the pastor had told them. It was that they had obliged by keeping their mind, and their options, open.
Even while accepting the duty of going to church, they still knew that they could question the “truths”.