Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Black and White

This is the first of four substantive post-vacation posts requested (nay, demanded) by Cousin.

Also, per request, I will attemtp to avoid all of the boring economics subjects, but as I am ready-ing myself for work (which begins next week), that may be unavoidable.

We were on yet another vacation last week, sunning ourselves on the beach with the not-in-laws (pictures above and below).

I am finding the SYO's logic to be ever-improving, especially when it has to do with her wanting something. But still, she remains completely black and white which, given that most college graduates are only a 4.5 on Bloom's Taxonomy, is not unexpected. She is particularly logical when sweets or extending time prior to her being required to be in her room in bed are involved. I fell into what I will call the "interesting discussion" plot one evening while BioMom was rocking Big, and I was prepping the SYO for bed.

Given these limitations, it is I who needs to learn the art of black and white argumentation.

We are currently, on the recommendation of a Brooklyn friend from one of my past lives, in the middle of From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler which I somehow missed as a kid. It is about two siblings (the 12 year old girl, Claudia, is the instigator, her brother, Jamie is 9) who run away from home to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in Manhattan.

It is a great little story (but, now that they've been gone a week, we're getting anxious about how their parents are taking their AWOL status). At one point in the story, the main characters meet a woman wearing a Sari.

That started the trap of the "interesting discussion."

We had had another discussion previously that day about women wearing veils during a walk on the beach to 7-11 (that wondermart that no longer exists here in the North country) for cherry slushies. I was wearing a towel over my head and we were talking about Islam, the veil, and the difference between religion and state. I felt like just handing her Persepolis by Marijan Satrapi, because she is such a diligent student, and I am such an unworthy teacher on subjects about which I am not completely solid, but I persevered.

We got into a murky, discombobulated, and I am sure, completely unintelligable conversation about church and state, when she came to the conclusion that she was happy to not be a Muslim, loving, as she does, the feel of the sun on her bare skin. I felt I had just done a great disservice to Allah, the smug SYO walking next to me, basking in the righteousness of her Catholcism that lets all go naked on the beach if so desired (we had not yet reached the part of the Catechism that forbids her parents to marry).

In any case, Six (A.K.A. the SYO) began questioning the wearing of the Sari (we frequrent Indian restaurants, so this was not out of her range of experience) and its implications to the wearer's religion (nice leap, I thought). We talked a bit about Hinduism (what little I know) and more generally about different religions, the most popular religions around the world, and their relationships.

In discussing Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, I started down the joint Abraham lineage road, but came up against a road block by the know-it-all Six who had had a discussion with MRM#1 (a pastor) when I put forth that his son Isaac (father of Jacob, made famous to Six in the musical about his many-colored coat) was the "father of Israel" while his other son Ishmael was believed by Muslims to be an ancestor of Muhammad. The fact that the fathers of Islam, Judaism and Christianity are consanguineous neither phased nor interested her.

NO!! Ishmael was not Isaac's brother! She responded, with absolute confidence, but with no alternative or explanation to report but still assured in her religious beliefs.

The argument is what begins the trap and I am slowly learing to just step away from the argument.

I attempt a segue:

Did you know that Jewish people have 39 categories of work that is prohibited on the Sabbath?

Disbelief among Six and BioMom. I could already see Six formulating an argument for why she should not have to take her dirty plates back to the kitchen.

Yeah! Once the sun goes down, they aren't supposed to turn on a TV or even blow out candles!

This ruined her Sabbath plans. Whaaat? No TV? She was again reminded about how correct she was in being Catholic.

In this weeks' New Yorker, Shalom Asulander, published a great personal history about his response to these 39 prohibitions and his interpretations on God's response to whether one respects or disrespects the prohibitions. Having growin up Jewish in Monsey, New York, he absorbed the message that God is "truly everywhere!" At one point a therapist asked him "'Do you really think God is punishing you?'" He responds: "His naivete astounded me. 'I don't think He is. I know He is.'"

His belief system led to elaborate plans to outwit the rules of work on the Sabbath: turning on the TV prior to sundown with plans to not turn it off until Sunday, for example, to assure his ability to see the playoff games.

About 20 minutes into the SYO and I's bedroom conversation, she followed with an even more broad question requesting more discussion on the differences among religions. I realized that she had scammed me. Interesting or no, she needed to go to sleep.

And I needed to forget for now the gray areas of my religious beliefs. Plus, even though it was in fact the Sabbath, I was not a practicing Jew, and some good shows were about to start on TV.


Polly P said...

Your vacation site looked beautiful! Wow! Though I live a scant 45 min. from the Pacific, none of our beaches up here look that inviting.

But I must know: did the SYO bury Big in that first picture? I kind of got a flash on the last scene with David Bowie in Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence. Kinder gruesome. Not that I'm intimating that she has any thinly buried sibling rivalry thing going on. Just paranoid about, now that we have a little munchkin just like Big, and a big sister who has every reason to cast a gimlet eye upon him.

giddings said...

Hi Polly-
I can't wait to hear your stories of sibling rivalry. . . I was looking over some posts from last year and found one where our Six wrote a phonetic note to us about how little "attenchun" we were paying to her.

And now, a year later, I have finally learned how adept she is at garnering both BioMom and I's attention away from Big in the evening. As a result, I've instituted a "15 minutes for Big" part of the evening before his bedtime where we all play solely with him.

She actually didn't bury him, but enjoyed him being, well, limited in movement. He loved having us dig holes, and then climbing into and out of them.

Congrats on your new little one. He is gorgeous!