When Boo was 2, I looked around for a preschool for him. I write "for him," but really, it was for me. Almost any mother will remember those days of toddlerhood when your child needed every nano second of your attention, every ounce of your strength and squeezed every drop of your patience. So I did my usual careful research, and with pen and chart in hand, I trudged from place to place.
I first went to the YWCA, wanting diversity most of all for him. (Of course, safety was the most important.) I made an appointment, full of hope for a better, more peaceful world. It was located in a part of town with a large black and Hispanic population, many of them poor, in this part of town. I saw the manifestations of their mission, to help parents who lacked good parenting skills - that is, children who "needed guidance," shall we say. I decided against that culture for my son. It broke my little liberal heart, but when push came to shove, my child came first.
I then went to the Jewish synagogue, looking for diversity of a different kind. I expected and looked forward to little Boo learning about shabat and bitter herbs and the oil that lasted and lasted. I knew he would not be learning about Easter. In the end, I think it was some mundane issue like their schedule that lead me to move down my roster.
I went to a protestant church school that had a good reputation, supposedly the place to go for upper-crust townians. It saddened me somewhat to consider the notion of his being surrounded by what I assumed would be white middle-class teachers and white middle-class kids. There would be the blond moms in their mini-vans and Land Rovers, little kids wearing Gymboree with matching ribbons. It was a nice building with plenty of parking, an adjacent fenced-in play ground, good adult-child ratios. Well, I thought, what he misses in diversity, he'll gain in Christian education.
I asked the petite Caucasian director about the curriculum. Don't get me wrong, we're talking about 2-year olds and I was not expecting a treatise on the End Times. What she said, though, shocked me.
"We don't teach religion here because we have families from all over and we don't want to offend them."Let me clarify that this is a program run by the church, not simply a nursery school that rents space.
When I went to the Synagogue, did I not think that there might be some Jewish traditions and beliefs presented? Did I not realize when I went to the Y in that part of town, that the children would represent the neighborhood? When I went to Penn, we had classes canceled for Jewish holidays but not on Good Friday.
sheep and cross crafts and learn John 3:16? So when ya go work for a Catholic institution, a hospital, let's say, didja miss the big statue of a woman wearing flowing robes, or the bleeding man on a cross? Have ya heard of the Catholic church? That they don't look kindly on birth control pills, abortion or divorce?
Alright. Did you make that leap with me? Were you holding my hand? or did I let go somewhere in my writing?