Skip to main content

I believe in dinosaurs, Mommy

I grew up in a very opinionated household, and I often mistook my parents' opinions for facts. So I argued passionately -- sometimes violently -- if a person dared contradict whatever crackpot ideas my mom and dad were rambling about the night before.

No one ever schooled me on the rules of engagement for religious and political debates -- I learned by trial and error, meaning Sunday school teachers despised me.

"See that little girl over there?" They whispered and pointed their mean, knobby fingers at me. "She asked today, 'Why do we pray to Jesus? He's God's son, not God."

"You think that's bad?" Another teacher scoffed. "She told me, 'My dad says that Matthew says it's a sin to go to church. So why are we here?'"

It's with that in mind I tell Lily -- and Ashlyn eventually -- "Whatever Mommy says about science and God and religion -- these are my opinions. I don't have the answers -- nobody really does."

We were curled up on the couch watching Jurassic Park, and Lily asked me -- "Mommy? Where do they keep the dinosaurs?"

I told her that dinosaurs were extinct like the Unicorns in Shel Silverstein's poem.


"How can that be?" She asked me. "What happened to them?"

I don't really know what happened to dinosaurs -- maybe they starved; maybe they burned up in a fiery volcanic eruption; maybe a virus killed them ... I wasn't there. I told Lily what I know -- there are lots of theories but nothing absolute.

"Didn't the scientists back then do any experiments to see what killed them?"

So I explained that people and dinosaurs didn't live together at the same time -- that some people don't believe dinosaurs existed at all.

"That's just silly," she told me. "Of course there were dinosaurs."

I asked her how she knew.

"You told me there were dinosaurs, Mommy."

"I also told you that Uncle Paul was Pink Batman. I might not know what I'm talking about all of the time," I said. "People have all kinds of beliefs. Some people believe that our whole history is written in the Bible. Some people believe that we're reborn over and over and again -- you may be human in one life and a cat in another. Some people believe we're related to monkeys ..."

"Monkeys?" She asked laughing. "Like family? Like my sister could be a monkey?"

So I tried in the simplest terms to explain human evolution -- that scientists believe humans and apes have a common ancestor -- "Scientists say that our DNA -- the stuff we're built from -- is almost identical to chimpanzee DNA."

"What in the heck are you telling me; that I'm half chimpanzee or something?"



She hopped around the room screeching like an apish monkey.

"No," I said. "Daddy isn't a chimpanzee. What I'm telling you is that it's possible we had an ancestor millions years ago who looked like a chimp."

"Then do the chimpanzees know what happened to dinosaurs?"

"No. I don't think so."

"Ok, Mom," she said condescendingly. "I believe in dinosaurs and ponies and God, because they're real. And I believe that I'm half chimpanzee, because chimpanzees are so cute."

And that's fine with me -- as long she owns it. I'd hate for her to believe in something simply because I told her to. I want her to listen and learn and decide for herself.

A lot of people are compelled to share their beliefs with others -- part of their faith is spreading the word of whatever it is they believe in. I'm curious about other cultures and religions, so I listen, but I don't share much. Whatever my faith is -- that part of me is private.

Whether I worship Willy Wonka or pigs that fly -- it's my faith to do with as I please. It seems counter intuitive to choose a church like I would a football team and root for the rival parishioners to get their teeth knocked down their throats.

"If people believe something different than we do at home you can't just tell them they're wrong. You have to listen first."

Comments

  1. Such a lot of thought has gone into this and you should be proud of raising a daughter who is an analytical thinker.

    Respecting the ideas and beliefs of others would make our world a much better place!!

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

I showed you mine -- it's your turn now.

Popular posts from this blog

The insecure writer's support group

The ground is important -- for several reasons.

Among them

Gravity makes no sense without it -- there's no mandate that science be logical so long as our scientists are the smartest smartypants on the planet, in which case "because I said so" is an acceptable explanation. The ground is important, because it's something to build on -- a starting point, a foundation.

I respect the ground, because it has on occasion fallen out from under me, and it's rather unsettling to watch your life in free-fall mode -- to see your accomplishments disintegrate in an instant or a decade in some cases. It all depends on how fast you're falling.

Most of us drop in slow motion. We'll catch a ledge or an up draft every once in a while and think "this is it!" But then we go on falling. Or do we? Is the "bottom" just a figment of our imaginations? Can we lay new ground wherever we choose?


Ask Alice

None of my friends growing up were impressed with Disney's…

Writers get laid

Writers get laid -- or they would if they tried -- because people -- especially women -- are impressed by the phrase, "I'm a writer." It's romantic.

Introducing yourself as a writer insinuates substance and depth of character; people like that. They don't know why, except that one-dimensional characters on T.V. sitcoms and big-screen romantic comedies prattle on and on about the whole package -- a good looking, funny, intelligent single with rock-solid values and money.

People admire the skill and dedication it takes to be a novelist or a journalist or a screen writer  -- "I always wanted to be a writer," they tell you with stars in their eyes.

Whether they know it's a myth or not they imagine us in rich, thrilling lives with sports cars and beach houses and Louboutin shoes like Carrie Bradshaw. So the woman at the grocery store doesn't feel bad when she puts back the US Weekly she read cover to cover before she checks out.

Or downloading unauth…

TOWANDA!

I am one dumb-luck happenstance away from a full-fledged nervous breakdown -- no kidding this time.

My back is pretty sturdy by now -- random bouts of unemployment, mounting debt, hooligan children, crazy family members (they're all nuts including me) -- I can carry a shit-ton of crap in my nifty ain't-life-swell backpack, but I'm no frickin' body builder. And it's not even big things that are pushing me over -- random bouts of unemployment, mounting debt, hooligan children ... it's the shit-storm of stupid people raining down on me like poops from Heaven.
The latest was a Florida couple--a mullet-sporting, NASCAR-loving twat and her top-heavy husband -- in a movie theater parking garage. I was so close to knocking their teeth down their throats -- that's assuming they had teeth -- I could taste blood.
For starters they came fishtailing into the garage and nearly plowed into a row of parked cars. They raced around the place like a couple of Earnhardt wannab…