This morning Max, our two-year-old, woke up early thanks to a pesky cough the boys both have. Kate brought him into bed with us for a while till the beast could no longer be contained…then he was lose in the house. Its like having a blonde Tasmanian Devil living with us. Constant motion! What are you…are shark? Will you die if you stop moving for one second? Things were immediately played with, things were knocked over, there was plenty of running, and multiple scoldings…then it turned 7:00 AM. When I rolled out of bed Max was standing at Kate’s dresser pulling out her jewelry, slamming the sock drawer, and touching everything within reach. My watch and wedding ring made a brief appearance on the floor and I’m pretty sure the cat is in hiding for a year. Welcome to mornings in my house…and every house with a toddler. Kate tamed the beast with the magic of a high chair and Play-Doh. Oh thank you, thank you, thank you Play-Doh!!! While captivated and making pretend birthday cake we got his shoes on and ushered him out the door for day care, which he calls “school.”
Last year we had some issues with school (as my subscribers will remember) with us getting “class passes” when not arriving at their designated start time…even though it didn’t fit with our schedule. I found these passes to be insulting to the parent. As if I need to pay for school and be scolded for not being there “on time.” As well, they were a Christian faith-based academy. I am a man who believes in religion but I believe there is a time and place for religion…and day care is a grey area for me. When Max was a baby it didn’t bother me because religion holds phenomenal lessons on how to interact with your society and provides moral lessons. At two…he is a sponge and will soak up any information fed to him which is why we chose to leave the old day care in search of a new one. I want my children to be exposed to everything life has to offer them (including religion) and then make decisions for themselves about what they want to participate in. Now I’m treading dangerous waters in Wichita, KS…but I’ve survived this long out here as a Democrat, I can survive a little talk about religion.
The academy was teaching him about one religion…and that was my problem. We celebrate Christmas in both my family and Kate’s, but that was practically sacrilege at the academy where they celebrate “Jesus’s birthday.” I like to give thanks at a meal and pause to recognize our good fortune, but I found it strange to see toddlers denied snack time till they prayed. When I spoke with the head of the school about how upset I was with the “class passes” I was told they didn’t want to speak with me about it but Jesus gave them the power to have patience that day. That was the one that did it for me…so we left. Now, I’m not knocking religion nor am I trying to offend anyone. I’m just saying that school was not the school I wanted my kid to go to. I felt like religion was being force-fed to him during a developmental period of his life and he was being told one thing was 100% right and everything else was 100% wrong. That’s not how I roll. The world is not black and white. Granted, I understand that Max is a Wichita State Shocker fan because I am, because I take him to games, and because I have taught him everything I can about my team. Had we grown up elsewhere I’m sure he would have a different team…but sports teams, habits, and traditions are different from religion…especially when our family comes from multiple religious backgrounds.
Now we were tasked with an extremely tough enigma, finding non faith-based school for our son in Wichita, KS. We looked at numerous places and found that the faith-based locations had the best facilities which is not surprising since Wichita is a very faith-based community. Many schools advertise outside on large LED signs, “FAITH-BASED DAY TEACHING.” It was hard to find separation of church and state in a community of private organizations. Then, we found a school that offered exactly what we were looking for and it has been (pun intended) a godsend since Max has started attending.
So there we were, Max and Dada, driving to school when we pulled up next to a car at a stop light. The driver was a middle-aged woman smoking a cigarette with a dog riding in her lap. “Look a doggy!” Max cried out in excitement. He then said, “She’s got steam on the doggy.” I explained that she was smoking a cigarette. Max asked if he could have a cigarette. I then explained that you have to be eighteen to have a cigarette so he would have to wait sixteen years before he decided if that was a good decision or not. I went on to explain that I used to smoke but quit six years ago because I wanted to live for a long time and be with Max and our family for as long as possible. I told him that smoking can hurt you and that’s why Dada doesn’t smoke. Max looked at the woman, the dog, and the cigarette for the duration of the light. A few minutes later he said, “Dada, smoking is bad for the doggy. Smoking is no, no, no.” I told him he was correct. He thought about this a little longer then said, “Dada…birthday cake is yummy and smoking is yucky.”
Here endeth the lesson.
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