7yo:”Why is today called Good Friday?” Me:”I don’t know, look it..” 7:”It’s wrong! It’s not good. It’s BAD, They should call it Bad Friday!"
The concept of Easter - it's tough for a child isn't it.
Why does the date move about?
What have eggs. And Chocolate. And Bunnies. And Chicks. And Chocolate Eggs, Chicks and Bunnies, got to do with Jesus' crucifixion and resurrection?
In the last week I've resorted to Google and, God forbid, Wikipedia, to find the answers to many of these questions for our seven year old son.
The Christian tale of death, rebirth and resurrection. Of self sacrifice, selflessness, of betrayal and forgiveness. All of this, I think, has resonance regardless of your religious belief.
These are the principles we try to instil in our children when talking about the Easter story. I'm Christian. Brought up in an Anglo-Catholic tradition. J isn't, something of an atheist who still believes in some form of divine entity, but rejecting of organised religion.
Our son sings in the local church choir.
I know, I was amazed he got in as well.
I have always attended church, albeit irregularly throughout my life. Attending services to support our son, I've been pleasantly surprised at the sense of meditative peace I've felt whilst there. And the wonderfully strong memories of attending services with my Mum. I feel her presence when I'm there. It's tangible, comforting. It goes a little way to filling the void her loss left.
Our son sits dutifully through the services. His real interest being the singing, which he adores. The other bits, well that's just stuff to be endured while he waits to sing again.
I've managed to teach him the Lord's Prayer, giving him a little insight into what it actually means. I've also taught him when to cross himself, which he gets right most of the time. Occasionally he doesn't, going to make the move, realising it's not the right time so turning the upward hand swing into a nose or ear scratch in an attempt to mask the mistake.
Being the more religious of the two of us, I of course lead on taking our son to the numerous practices and services he now needs to attend.
Occasionally that's not possible though. On those occasions it's J who needs to attend church to drop off or collect our son. Sometimes this means going in and getting him as the adult choristers continue their practice after the boys finish.
This situation provided a lesson for J in quite how literally seven year old boys take what you say to them.
Arriving to drop him off, J told our son to come and wait outside at the end of practice and to ask the choirmaster if he could do so as J didn't want to have to go into church.
In answer to our son's query as to why, J gave a list of possible consequences he believed there may be for his setting foot on Holy Ground.
Our son therefore told the choirmaster very seriously, "I have to wait outside for Dad because if he comes into the church the water will boil in the font, there'll be lots of thunder and he'll probably be struck by lightening."
He was excused early that evening.
Preparing to go to the service on Good Friday morning, our son brought up another of those awkward to answer Easter theological questions:
"Why is today 'Good' Friday? Jesus was killed today. That's not 'good'!" He was quite definite in his thinking.
I tried to turn this into a learning opportunity: "I don't know, why don't you loo.."
I didn't get to finish the sentence. Learning from J our son was already taking the train of though further.
"It's not 'Good' Friday. It's Bad! Jesus was murdered. They should call it Bad Friday. I'm going to tell them at church they have to change the name!"
"Oh, well, I'm not sure.." Was the best I could get out.
"I'm in the choir! They'll listen to me!"
"Yes, well, maybe.." I was looking to J for backup. It being early he was clearly trying to come up with a suitably balanced atheistic response but, not having finished his first coffee, was struggling badly.
Dropping our son at church for pre-service practice I felt I should be as supportive as possible. "Good luck with the Bad Friday proposal!"
"Thanks," he shouted as he ran into church waving over his shoulder.
On the way home I asked our little boy what kind of response he received to his Bad Friday idea.
"What?" He answered.
"You were going to tell them to change the name to Bad Friday?" I reminded him.
"Oh, they had Hot Cross Buns when I got in there. They were much more interesting so I forgot to mention it." Clearly spiced fruit rolls are much more important.
"Why are they called Hot Cross Buns?" Our son asked. "What's that got to do with Easter Eggs?"
I at least knew the answer to the first question.
Happy Easter everyone!