Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Possum #1 makes us proud.

I get alot of questions, from atheists and Christians, about how I raise my children and how atheism impacts their childhood. Unbeknownst to me, before the Winter break, my daughter had been asked to write a "pop essay" in her language arts class. "Pop essays" are like pop quizzes, in that the topic is not known before hand and the assignment generally comes when the teacher has failed to plan well and needs something to fill a gap in the lesson plan. In any case, the day before winter break, possum#1 was asked to write, for ten minutes, an essay on the following question: "What do you want for Christmas?"

Out of the mouths of babes...
What I want for Christmas, by Possum#1
There's a movie that's frequently shown in twenty-four hour blocks in which the main character, Ralphie, wants nothing but a Red Ryder BB Gun for Christmas. Ironically enough, he's asked to write an essay about his Christmas desire by a slightly shrewd teacher and told that he'll shoot his eye out. As I glance around this classroom, I see that many of my friends are feverishly pumping out manifestos dictating what gadgets and goodies they wish to find under their Christmas tree on the morning of December 25th. My mind, however, is reeling over the presumption that my public school teacher has addressed our classroom and assigned an essay in which she presumes that the entire lot of us are Christian or celebrate Christmas.

I take another look around my classroom and notice that Mahmeed is absent-mindedly cleaning underneathe his fingernails with the cap from his pen. Emily is feverishly trying to catch my eye and, having done so, mouthing the words, "I don't celebrate Christmas...I'm Jewish." in a quizzical manner. Jayden is doing what he normally does during such pop essays: he's looking out the window- probably wondering where his parents will get the money for January's rent and feeling guilty for daring to think about a gift. He's pretty sensitive.

I have never admitted it to any of my friends, but I think I must be an atheist. My mother is an atheist and has always told me to find my own path to spiritual comfort. I think I must be an atheist because I can't fathom any God who would allow the celebration of the birth of his son to become a time when my friends are consumed with thoughts of how they can convince Grandma to buy them a new Nano Ipod while other kids are wondering how their parent will manage the rent. What do I want for Christmas, I want a less assuming teacher. I want a teacher who thinks past the standard "What I want for Christmas..." assignment when she's aware that three out of her twenty students probably don't celebrate Christmas. I want a world where my friends will be asked to write essays about how they might use their winter vacay' to help other people. I want my mom to be healthy again. I want my grandmother to quit smoking. I want my grandfather to quite bugging her about it. But most of all, I want to not get an "F" on this assignment because you get angry with me for saying all of the above. Merry Christmas, Mrs. "X"* (name changed to protect identities).

Can I just say that I love my kids!?!?!?! I love that my daughter is getting to an age where she can make observations like she does. I love that she recognized the banality of the assignment and the injustice of her less recognized peers and cohorts. And, most of all, I love that- despite her usual shy demeanor- she had the courage to say what needed to be said.

Her teacher wrote this at the end of her essay:
"Possum#1*, thank you for your thoughtful remarks. I don't think you're an atheist but I respect your empathy for your friends. Please see me after class today. A+"

After class, possum#1 said that her teacher told her she couldn't be an atheist because her "ability to care for others feelings isn't an atheist trait." and that her "attitude was very Christian." WTF?!


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Corky said...

Just a passerby and saw this wonderful essay. Congratulations possum #1, great job.

Shame on you "william g." don't you realize that you will end up in the Christadelphian lake of fire. You are not allowed to judge others except those members of your congregation who have given you permission to judge them (may the gods have mercy on them).

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Tendu said...

Wow, she did a great job writing that. I find it kinda sad though that the teacher believes "good" people can't be atheists...and she probably has no lost love for you for raising her to think she might be an atheist.

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djmom said...


Berlzebub said...

@ djmom:
On these what? You not only don't make yourself clear, but you post on a thread that no one has posted on in several months.

Please, get a life.

Mikayla Starstuff said...

Wow, your kid is bright, intellegent, courageous and a great writer. Congratulations!

As for the teacher, I think she just has a bit to learn if she thinks your daughters attitude is not compatable with being an atheist.

JessEpiphany said...

I think your daughter's essay was very thoughtful. I find it sad though that her teacher would tell her she couldn't be an atheist because she was too caring. How incredibly ridiculous and naive to assume that only Christians can be kind and caring.


Evilshadow said...

Im just going to leave it at VERY bad teacher. The essay is dumb, BUT the comment she made at the end was downright stupid and ignorant.

VERY good child. Even thou i have no ide exacly the age of your child i'd be very happy for my child even if she was like 25 for something like that. Awsome!

Jessica said...

I feel for your daughter. When I was in highschool, the school was big on celebrating halloween, which really bugged me and my friends, because as Christians we chose not to celebrate halloween, and we even were forced to skip the day in order not to witness some of the entertainment that us was sinful (ie. hypnosis).

Some Christians don't celebrate Christmas. And some non-Christian people celebrate it but remove God from it. Please don't assume that because she thinks everyone celebrates Christmas that she assumes everyone's Christian.

Also I'm sad that you are rejecting God for the way people behave. If you read the bible you'd find out that God is a LOT better than people (He's not only good, He's Holy - He's where babies come from, look in the face of a tiny baby and you have a bit of a glimpse of what God is like). That's why He had to send His Son to die for us in order to save us from hell. (Which is what we deserve). Jesus is the only way to heaven. He died to forgive you for every wrong thing you ever did. And everyone has done something wrong.

Jessica said...

I'm sorry you are rejecting God because of how people behave! If you read the Bible you'd find out that God is a lot better than people (He's not only good, He's holy). People are evil and that was why they act like that Christmas. We are all sinners. Sin sends you to hell, that's why Jesus (Holy God made into man) came and died for us - He got the keys of hell - and then rose from the dead to save us. Jesus is only way to heaven. He died to forgive you of all your sins (every wrong thing you ever did).

Also some Christians don't celebrate Christmas, and I'm sure some non-Christians do. We had trouble with our highschool at halloween when they would invite a hypnotist to the school - as Christians we were forced to skip the day to opt out.

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