Thursday, March 15, 2007

Baptism Gifts

Back in October, I had posted my experience with being asked to be a "god mother". I realized, when Riker commented on that entry, today, that I never gave you guys the conclusion to that issue.
I ended up NOT taking the job of god mother, but... here is the letter I wrote.

Dear S*,
Here are the keys (the dictionary) to the world (an atlas). As I write this, in preparation to pack the dictionary and atlas into a box for mailing, I can't help but smile at your picture. You are an amazing little girl, who will do amazing things. I was asked to be your God Mother. For reasons that I will explain to you when you are older, I was honored to be asked, but I declined. Instead, I will be your "Odd Mother". :) It *is* rather odd for any person to give an infant a dictionary and an atlas, isn't it? But, as you grow, I hope you will absorb the colorful images of the world and that those visions will carry over into your dreams. My wish is that you will dream the things you will one day, actually, do. Dream of jungles and deserts... or polar ice caps and grassy savanahs. Study the (political) map on page 12, but dream of the map on page 19. Dream of a world without borders and restraints.
The dictionary, while tasty now, will be even more palatable later! (I gave your mother a board book called, "Pat the Bunny": I would prefer that you chew on that for now and, figuratively, digest the dictionary later.) The words in the dictionary will help you unlock the map on page 12. I know the dictionary looks big and heavy, and possibly- scary, right now. But, please... do not fear it! Become comfortable with it. It is yours to discover. Let it help you in the pursuit of becoming who you will one day be.
I love you!! You are an exquisite little creature.
Love, your "Odd Mother".
P.S. Next year, for your birthday, you're getting a Thesaurus, so... keep some room on your shelf. One never knows when the odd mother will strike. *smooches*


Sean the Blogonaut said...

You never cease to amaze pm. Wish you'd been my odd mother :)

My god parents were good people and they did a good job of not instilling any religion in me, they were just close friends of my parents, still catholic but I think it was a more hands off approach when it came to religion, ie "we'll get involved if he starts sacrificing barbie dolls to satan on a home made alter" type of deal.

Would have been good to have an "aunty" encouraging my learning.

Anonymous said...

"we'll get involved if he starts sacrificing barbie dolls to satan on a home made alter" type of deal.

Yeah. My godparents were pretty hands-off as well. They were family members, but I rarely saw them and, for being good Catholics, they really didn't take the whole "guide this child" thing very seriously.

You never cease to amaze pm. Wish you'd been my odd mother :)
Awwwww. Thank you. :)

Actually,... it would've been kind of cool. I could have been an IOM (International Odd Mother). That sounds like a long range weapons system. *Grimaces*

Kaethe said...

I like "odd" mother. My kids have a godless mother, which seems to work just fine.

Sarah said...

My 'godparents' were indirectly instrumental in my eventual rejection of religion and my love of words. They started me off on a Shel Silverstein book (Where the Sidewalk Ends) and then satiated me with heavy doses of tales from their travels around the world. One 'cousin' was born in New Zealand, the other in Zimbabwe. The rest of their childhood was spent either in random villages or cities around the world for their father's university sabbaticals, or in their house decorated entirely of treasures purchased only from artisans (by their strictly adhered to rules). I lived vicariously through them (even though I only saw them for short visits every couple of years). They taught me that my world view was by far not the only one. You're off to a good start. Keep it up, and maybe throw in the Silverstein book with the thesaurus next year. ;)

Summer Squirrel said...

What a great idea! You are lucky to be able to influence a youngster (other than your own) to reality. My sister has choosen to keep me from her son for fear of "contamination." I can't wait for him to turn 18 to let him know my side of the story. Good news is my niece is being raised without religion and is a large part of my life.

I wish you the best!

Cogito said...

What a nice gift. And you show a lot of integrity in declining to be a godmother. It seems that a lot of religious people would do anything to co-opt children of other beliefs, even (or maybe preferably) behind the parents' backs. It's nice to see once again an "immoral atheist" demonstrating higher ethical standards than our harshest critics do.

I guess I'm an "Oddmother" too. My best friend is Catholic, and her kids have Catholic godparents. However, my husband and I are their designated guardians in case they are orphaned, because non of their (religious) family members seem reliable enough to fill that role.

lynn's daughter said...

As a teacher, I have to say this almost brought tears to my eyes. And I'm not a teary person, unless I'm pms-ing. But that's another story. Bravo, and I hope you are a constant and continuing influence in this little girls' life.

Jack said...

Now you've got the theme song to "Fairly Odd Parents" running through my mind. Make it stop!

"Wands and wings, little crowny things...."

Taylor (stagccva) said...

I certainly wish you were my daughter's "odd" mother!! What wonderful lessons you pass on - I hope I can do as good a job as you have with my little one!

Riker said...

Hey there! I was flattered that you took the time to reply to my commentary, to say nothing of the courtesy of being mentioned by name in your post :)

Dropping by to deposit a few more positive vibes, and to express a little gratitude on another front: you've lit the fire under my butt and I've started blogging again according to my original intentions (that is, posting regularly). The themes of late have been influenced by reading your blog.

Back on topic, I say your choice of gift is a commendable one.

I am actually a godfather of two (unrelated to each other) children of friends/family friends.

The older of the two just turned eleven, and he's being raised as a pentacaustal Christian. My mother is his godmother. The two of us do not approve of some of the messages he's been exposed to, but this is a delicate age, and an even more delicate scenario (in which we have been asked to be positive influences in his life... which makes it difficult to allow him to be indoctrinated into such an extreme facet of christianity).

In order to do so successfully, I actively refrain from making any comments about his or my ideologies, but simply conduct myself as a role-model he can look up to. The value of the lesson will not only come now as he mirrors the desirable aspects of my behavior, but later in life when he becomes old enough to address issues of faith with me. When that day comes, the goal is for him to learn that the moral example he followed that of an atheist; he will have solid evidence from people he trusts that morality and atheism are not mutually exclusive. He's a smart and mature guy, and I for one can't wait to engage in that conversation with him; he's gonna have some great questions to ask, and the more challenging they are, the more delighted I'll be to provide my best answers :)

I hope you get the same chance with your odd-child (hmm, maybe that shouldn't be a two-way street) one day. Your own children are fortunate to be exposed to your eloquence and sensibility; for their own sakes I hope others close to you get similar opportunities.