Tag Archives: Easter

Atheist children and deep thoughts about George Michael

I have to admit it’s nice to live in a secular country where I can get stuff done on Good Friday instead of hiding out being bugged by the children (or going to an interminable stations of the cross service, which we would obviously never dream of doing with the children even if we were still church-going Catholics). Today we went to the thrift store, went out to lunch (what I saved on baseball pants I spent on a high-class fish burger), popped into the library, and finally got some vitals at the supermarket, including a bottle of red for dinner. Catch anyone doing that on Good Friday in Ireland.

The children are on spring break, as of yesterday afternoon. That’s why all this productivity is notable, because they were with me. These days, when I’m so hedonistically child-free for six hours daily from Monday to Friday, I can usually do most of those things without either of them cramping my style. Though I suppose lunch wouldn’t have been so much fun without my two french-fry munchers, who were very good while I insisted on telling them why fish was traditional for this particular day of the year.

It’s so funny raising atheists. I mean, “sin” was a new word to them very recently, that needed to be explained, all theoretically, of course. I love that, I can’t lie. (That would be a sin, after all.) How will they do without all that vital Catholic guilt weighing them down? It’s going to be interesting to find out.

I had this epiphany about George Michael’s lyrics on our way home from New York as we delved our iPod’s back catalogue for some good 80s/90s road-trip music. There was George writing all these songs and making videos with beautiful women in them, and there we all were, us girls, imagining that George wanted to be our lover – and all the time he was probably having a great time thinking what eejits we were because every single song was about gay relationships. Of course. Which are just the same as straight ones in so many ways. Very subversive. Anarchic, practically.

Happy Easter. I changed my header for you – more seasonal, don’t you think?

PInk fuzzy blossoms

More of the same


My stance on mythical creatures

It’s Easter Morning and no bunny came to our house. The kids are fine with that. They haven’t really noticed. To be honest, I didn’t really notice. I thought for a good 30 seconds after I woke up to figure out what day of the week it was, and was happy when I decided it was a Sunday. I did not leap out of bed and get busy with baskets and fake grass and eggs of any description.

Not to say that we don’t do Easter things. We went to an egg hunt yesterday. There was a big guy in a bunny suit there, but he wasn’t handing out candy so my kids weren’t really interested in him.

Egg haul

Mabel’s eggs

When I first discovered – and Dash was about five when this happened so you’d think I’d have noticed before – that the Easter Bunny in America was like Santa Claus, an imaginary being who delivered things in the night, I was a bit horrified. Another one? Do we never get to give our kids anything ourselves? And since Easter always comes somewhere between B’s birthday and Dash’s, usually closer to the latter, we really don’t need an extra occasion for overconsumption.

Am I depriving them of a quintessential childhood memory? Will they complain to their therapists that the deep-seated trauma of never getting an Easter basket is at the root of their neuroses? Do I care?

I made a nice dinner for the grown ups last night, with a nice dessert to boot. Rhubarb, first of the season, grants a wish. The children didn’t eat anything, due to ill-timed large bready snacks in the late afternoon. Mabel is going through a phase (let’s charitably say) and the day ended with my carting all the soft toys and all her dolls down to the basement in a huff, because she wouldn’t even try to clean up. She’s been happily playing with Lego all morning.

Dash had a fever on Friday and is now in that “is that a rash?” in-betweeny stage. He might have strep, he might have fifth disease; he might just have a sore throat. We might go on an outing today; we might stay at home. We don’t need any more bunnies.

Seasonally appropriate musings

On Friday we went to a playdate, and I brought gingerbread muffins, because chocolate chips seemed inappropriate for Good Friday. I decided gingerbread, while not exactly redolent of repentance, was just that bit more sombre.

This year, with Easter Sunday falling handily on Monkey’s fifth birthday, any quibbling about bunnies that may or may not leave gifts for other children or demands for luridly coloured marshmallow birdies have been pushed far out of the way by considerations like cake and ice cream and cupcakes and tomorrow’s party. I’m pretty sure any notion Monkey may have had that there’s anything else going on this weekend has been expunged from his memory. We were going to an egg hunt yesterday morning, but it was rained off.

I think it’s at this time of year, even more than at Christmas, that I miss the pomp and circumstance of church. Once again, I puzzle over how to mark the special times of the calendar for my children without reducing everything to a present-grab or a frenzy of candy and chocolate and Red 40. I’d almost like to bring them to church, except that at this age they wouldn’t last five minutes in the quiet alien environment, and anyway, it feels hypocritical. Easter Sunday is the most important Sunday of the year to the Church, and the priest always used to issue a special welcome to anyone who wouldn’t normally be there (mind you, he’d say that at Christmas too). But even if I just crept in on my own to sit at the back and soak up the atmosphere or listen to the music or whatever I’d be there for, I imagine I’d feel either to a greater or lesser degree like an interloper and a hypocrite. I know they’re all for the return of the lost sheep, but maybe not the return and immediate departure again for another year or three.

I do believe that the world works in mysterious ways, whether God is involved or not.

I do believe that there are far more amazing things than we can fathom on heaven and earth, even if I don’t necessarily believe in Heaven.

I do believe above all that we should treat others as we would like them to treat us, regardless of irrelevant details such as race, colour, creed, or sexual orientation.

And I definitely believe that my gorgeous family is a gift, a privilege and a blessing, though couldn’t say whether it comes from God or karma or the amazing random universe. In a way, it’s all the same thing, so it doesn’t matter.

Maybe we’ll just blast Handel’s Messiah on the iPod every Easter and leave it at that.

Spring Busy

Spring Break snuck up on me this week, as these things always do, and it was Saturday or so before the twin facts that all the toddler classes are taking a break and Monkey has no school all week impinged on my brain and I understood that I would be responsible for directing operations for both children all day every day without so much as a gymborama or a music time to distract us. Never mind having to do the grocery shopping and go to the post office and things like that with not one but two in tow.

On Monday morning I got the shopping over with early, and it didn’t go quite as well as I’d hoped (child B runs away, totally, to another aisle; child A delightedly chases her, feeling all righteous and justified about it; I prevaricate halfway along the cereals straining to hear which end I should be aiming the giant truck-trolley for; they both appear in front of the milk fridges at the top end, where Monkey appears to be practising his cop moves with a most impressive wrestle-her-to-her-knees maneuver; I hope everyone understands it’s all in good fun, and go to restrain the perpetrator in the seats up front, only to discover that this, the supermarket’s most-coveted Blue Car, has no functioning straps so I can’t keep her anywhere, and the shopping’s only half done… anyway, I was a bit frazzled by the end of all that), but we managed to meet up with friends at a slightly different playground from usual and the rest of the morning went well enough.

The afternoon, mind you, was a moderate disaster, since it turns out that the only thing more stressful than getting the kids out of the house in the after-nap period is not managing to get them out at all. There was some dismantling of the sofa, some pulling out of the phone wires, some fighting over stuff, some dumping water out of the bath, some dumping the towels into the bath… it was tedious. I needed some wine.

Tuesday morning was much better: the stars aligned to give me a cloudy morning and no children with colds, and I took them swimming. Monkey got an early birthday present of scuba goggles (he wanted ones that covered his nose as well) and they were so excited they got themselves dressed in record time. We presented ourselves and our sadly under-used membership cards at the reception desk, where Mabel announced “We’re going to go swimming!” to the nice lady, who was impressed. Mabel then went on to tell her all about how the doctor cuts the umbilical cord when a baby is born (we’d been talking about such things in the car, as you do) but luckily the nice lady didn’t understand a word of that. They bobbled around me in the shallow pool for almost an hour, and afterwards Monkey was still talking about how this was the best day ever. Clearly, I should take them swimming just exactly this often, to engender such enthusiasm every time.

On Wednesday we managed a trip to Target without significant loss or injury, and our usual playground date for lunch, and the weather was so hot we had to break out the shorts and t-shirts. In the afternoon we went to a nearby playground-with-sandbox where a reasonable amount of fun was had, though I did have to go and explain to the father of the sobbing three-year-old that my two-year-old had just stomped all over her sand castles. Never my favourite moment.

Now it’s Thursday and I think I’m getting the hang of this, a little. The weather is more seasonal again, so this morning was a different playground and this afternoon will be a quick shopping trip followed by more playground. Tomorrow it’s going to rain, but we have muffins and an indoor playdate on the cards for the morning. By the weekend I’ll be knee-deep in birthday baking, so at this stage I just have to make sure that I’ve got all the eggs and the cocoa and the chocolate chips, and Easter will just have to look after itself.

Jammy tigers

In Ireland, spring is a leisurely affair. Over the course of many weeks, spring sproings slowly, with plenty of false starts and teasing back-and-forths. It begins with a snowdrop or two in January or February, and finally reaches its apex with the cherry blossom in May. Ususally the daffodils are out by St Patrick’s Day, but there are no guarantees.

Much like summer in Ireland, where we say, “Oh, I remember last summer. It was a Tuesday,” spring here comes and is gone in a flash. One day we were under two feet of snow; the next – or so it seemed – the white blossoms had popped like popcorn all over, and now we have daffodils and tulips and cherry trees, oh my. The green leaves are already revealing themselves behind the white blossoms and in a week or so it’ll all be over bar the shouting. No wonder they have a festival here, otherwise it would be finished before you’d even managed to pay attention and think you should go look at some trees.

It’s Easter and we’ve been partaking in secular celebrations. There was an egg hunt (“hunt” implies there was some sort of search involved; it was more of a fast egg collection, really, since they were all just lying there in the grass waiting for the hordes of basket-wielding, flouncy-dress-wearing munchkins) yesterday, and another at a party today. Monkey has a huge haul of small plastic eggs containing stickers, M&Ms, and jelly beans, while Miss was just as happy collecting stones as eggs. It was pure chance that I didn’t make a comment about all the work one of the mums had put into filling and hiding all 300 eggs this afternoon, because somehow it completely bypassed my notice that this was supposedly done by the Easter Bunny. In Ireland, there’s no such thing. You get a chocolate egg from your parents, and maybe another from your grandparents, and maybe some more from assorted relatives and friends, especially if you’re an only child like I was, and then you gorge yourself silly on substandard chocolate-flavoured substance and doom the planet with all the unrecyclable plastic packaging. At least, that’s how it used to be done. But there were no mythical beings to worry about.

Monkey with easter eggs

Speaking of mythical beings, Monkey sometimes wakes in the night, or doesn’t want to go to sleep, because he’s afraid of tigers. (Just now. It was a scary giant last year.) In these instances, I find it’s easier to work with what you have than to tell them not to think about it, because there’s nothing harder than trying not to think of a scary tiger, or giant, or three-horned dragon with purple spots, or whatever it is that’s bothering you. So, in much the same fashion as Harry Potter vanquishing a Boggart, I try to make it ridiculous, and told Monkey that the tigers weren’t after him, they just wanted jam sandwiches and were looking for him to open the fridge for them because they don’t have thumbs. Now he says they like jam made of little boys. I’m not sure how to deal with that one.