Oh My God! - My Five Year Old Finds The Almighty

Ali, my five year old, has discovered God. All of my efforts to inoculate her from the God meme has come to naught. For the last few weeks she has invoked HIM regularly.

 

I cooked her a cheese omelette the other day.

 

Oh my God! I love this!

 

I told Ali she was going to her first karate lesson this week.

 

Oh my God!

 

I just discovered Cartoon Network is playing old school Looney Tunes. So Ali and I sat and watched the episode where Silvester is trying to eat Tweety (it really doesn't matter which episode it is because they are all the same).

 

Oh wait, Tweety remembers he can fly and Silvester falls with a great crash.

 

Oh my God!

 

At first her invocation of the Sky Fairy didn't bother me. I can have a fairly thick skin for this kind of thing. The worst thing a parent can do is to overreact and make a small problem into a BIG one. That's one of the first things they teach you in Behavior Management 101: ignore the irritating behavior and see what happens. That's all fine and good. If I were a healthy functioning adult I'd let it go.

 

I'm not that guy.

 

I will not abide the Sky Fairy to interrupt my enjoyment of Looney Tunes! I grew up watching those cartoons and they are MINE not the Sky Fairy's.

 

"Ali," I quipped, "we should have a small discussion about..."

 

Beep!  Beep!  It was the school bus. Well, the God thing can wait. And it did wait for a few days. It had slipped my mind until the Wife brought it to my attention while I was washing the dishes.

 

"Ali's been saying Oh my God."

 

"Yep, that has not gone unnoticed. It kinda bugged me and then I thought: What's the harm if she takes the fictitious deity's name in vain?"

 

The Wife, just as a reminder, is an atheist, too. However, she does not harbour my curmudgeonly attitude of I don't really care what you think about me, thank you very much. She was not raised by rabid wolves (see last post).

 

She gave me the look.

 

"People will think we're bad parents when they hear her say that."

 

I did the math quickly in my head. This was not a topic to get into a heated discussion about, and, well, she was right. How can I give the impression I'm not just rolling over and being uber-submissive? The obvious choice, of course... sarcasm.

 

"If she says Oh my Zeus! or By Thor's hammer!  would that be OK?"

 

She gives me a second look.

 

Swell.

 

Later that day Ali and were waiting for the bus, and she dropped another OMG! bomb.

 

"Ali, do you know who God is?"

 

She looks at me, "No".

 

So far, so good.

 

Even though she had heard it before (obviously it made a big impression on her), I restated the truth about God. "God is an imaginary friend a lot of people have." I let that sink in a bit. "People don't know he is imaginary. Do not tell them he is imaginary because they may get mad."

 

"OK"

 

At that moment the bus came, and off she went to kindergarten.

 

Now, I haven't gotten any grief because of this policy. Will, who is eight, understands and has executed the Don't tell people god isn't real program well. Ali has a different temperament. While Will is a chill, laid back kid, Ali's default setting is being all alpha-girly. Maybe she'll tell people God isn't real. Who knows? Only time will tell.

 

LiP

Views: 17

Tags: Parenting, atheism

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Comment by Andrew Hall on April 3, 2011 at 9:01pm

Ali is very social and I attribute her OMG habit to her peers in school. Oddly enough, I haven't heard her say it in the last two days.

Comment by Richard Healy on April 2, 2011 at 7:03pm

In addition I remember a friend going to some lengths to always tell her daughter that men and women were equal - and being quiet distraught when her daughter announced in one of those "what will you be when you grow up" conversations than only boys could be astronauts and girls had to be nurses*  (or something like that)

I think it's probably instructive to remember kids are absorbing machines, that they are inately wired to spot differences (eg gender) but moreover in your case, they are natural dualists and imbue the whole world with intention, (things happen becuase someone wishes it - eg the clouds drop rain becuase they want to) hence why infant indoctrinating is so successful.  Young children are still at a stage where fantasy and reality can be indistinguishable and don't possess the critical faculties to disregard many of the more instinctual behaviours.

 

Not that it's inevitable - but I think be patient and keep demonstrating the behaviour you want emulated.  Ultimately they will grow to be their own person but they'll take a lot of their cues from mum and dad.

Comment by Richard Healy on April 2, 2011 at 6:55pm

Interesting.  I wonder where she learnt the word/concept

 

This is a fascinating video about infant development from TED

http://www.ted.com/talks/deb_roy_the_birth_of_a_word.html?awesm=on....
makes me think where your daughter was and what she was doing and who with when she first spoke it and it got tacit approval....

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