These are the kinds of incidences that make me worry about next year:
1. When I stop by to sign her out for doctor's appointments, etc...I notice that the principal's office is decorated with religious claptrap. So I certainly don't feel that she'll be open to my concerns about the following:
2. Around Thanksgiving, I picked her up from school, and she was near tears. When I asked her what was wrong, she told me that they had drawn hand turkeys (you know...where the thumb is the head and the fingers are the tail feathers). On each feather, they were told to write something that they were thankful for. My girl had written things like "mom", "dad", "the earth". Real things. Then one of her "friends" told her that if she didn't write "Jesus" on one of her feathers, then GOD WOULD EAT HER. She was so terrified that she erased "earth" and wrote "Jesus". She was quietly crying on the way home. I was livid, but tried to calmly explain that religious people sometimes get carried away. Of course, I assured her that nobody was going to eat her...least of all an imaginary god. Then we changed the turkey.
3. Her reading teacher, who apparently also taught a few "science" lessons, showed a video in class. It was supposed to be about space, the solar system...all that good stuff. My daughter is very interested in space, so she was excited. She came home telling us all about the video....and, in particular, one part about a glowing rock in space where we all go when we die. What?! At this point, I wanted to go have a talk with the teachers...but we're very worried about making our daughter a target of religious discrimination, so we decided to let it go. We thought maybe the teacher had selected that video in a hurry from YouTube, and hadn't watched it all before showing it to the class. We talked to our daughter about it again, but left it at that.
4. Then the same teacher told the entire class, a few weeks later, that when you're sick you should pray to God to make you better. Groan. Another talk.
Among her classmates, of course, she's been hearing the usual talk about Jesus. She rarely mentions it, except in passing. BUT, while cleaning out my car last weekend, I glanced through a notebook that I keep in there for her to scribble in. On one page was a Cupid heart...with "GSES" written above it. Don't know when she did it (and the spelling is flat-out hilarious)...but it would seem that the noise she's hearing at school is seeping in. Of course, she also draw pictures of unicorns and stuff...but she believes those are real, too (and since there's no harm in unicorns, or the tooth fairy, we let her. Religion is another thing altogether).
Our tactic has been to discuss it occasionally and to welcome her questions, but otherwise to treat it as a non-issue. That may not be the best way. We want to behave as though we're tolerant of others' beliefs for now, because we don't want her declaring intellectual war on her classmates and teachers...especially since she's just not equipped to fight those battles at age 7 (and her classmates are no doubt armed with Sunday school dogma). We don't want her to be a social pariah...or for her teachers to be prejudiced against her because she comes from a family of atheists.
I've seriously considered taking her out and homeschooling her...
What do you all do when this stuff happens?
Autumn, I bet you'll be okay in an urban setting. My sister is in the Houston area, and as far as I know, she hasn't encountered this...nor have friends in Dallas. There will be a more diverse mindset in SA.
I'm all for fighting it...but I hesitate to drag my daughter through the mud, honestly. We are a tiny minority here (if not the only atheists in the whole school district -- it wouldn't surprise me), and this is not an area where "otherness" is tolerated well. I don't think the school board...or even the state, given their fight against teaching evolution in public schools...is going to be too helpful. And, in fighting the fight for our own principles, do we expose our daughter to isolation, unfair treatment or even bullying? That's our worry.
It's not a revolutionary mindset, I suppose. I just find that, when my daughter will have to bear the brunt of my actions, I hesitate. But we do have to take some kind of action, if it continues. Maybe we can find a diplomatic way...
Well, I just had a very encouraging conversation with my sweet girl. It came out, as we talked, that she told her main teacher, Ms. W., that she and her family don't believe in God. And she told me of two instances when Mrs. W. actually stood up for her godlessness. So, whether Ms. W. approves or not, she's willing to do the right thing....and that makes me feel SO MUCH better. Ava also says that several of her friends know she doesn't believe in a god...and only one of them gives her a hard time about it. This is the same one that told her that God would eat her. It doesn't make her cry anymore.
She couldn't remember if she told the crazy reading teacher or not (she only saw Ms. Crazy a few times a week, for reading class). I'm guessing crazy reading teacher knows.
I don't know why she didn't tell me about her main teacher in our earlier conversations...but it's part of what's tricky about all this. Sometimes the way kids perceive and report things is....inaccurate. But I think I have a more complete picture of things now. It's a relief to hear that her classmates are mostly cool, too...she's never mentioned that, either (and I know I've asked her...).
being a Texan have you heard of the case of Damon Fowler in Bastrop, Louisiana?
I was JUST going to post that article! Here is a another one. Not all people are as forgiving as seven year olds so just watch out as she gets older I would say.
Wow. I had heard about Damon, and was impressed with him. I hadn't heard about the threats, etc....and they went ahead with the prayer anyway??? Holy $%#@.
The more extreme stuff worries me...we live within a couple of hours of Jasper, TX where, in 1998, some monsters dragged a man to death from the back of their truck -- for being the wrong color. I don't exactly walk around in fear (most of the folks around here are perfectly nice)...but I also don't put political stickers or a Darwin fish or scarlet A on my car. Politics and religion, like racism, whip certain people into such a fervor, that it doesn't seem like a risk worth taking, now that we have kids. Amazing how parenthood makes you risk averse. ;)
I'm a Southern woman, born and raised. It's all about honey vs. vinegar when you're catching flies. I'll try honey first, if we have problems again next year. Then it'll be vinegar. My husband's got a gun (who doesn't? it's Texas!) and I took a semester of fencing in college, so if they come for us with their pitchforks...well, we'll be ready.
It does help, very much...thanks. We really need to educate ourselves. That will be my homework this summer.
I'll be curious to hear if your school changes the book fair offerings...