The Web Log of Stephen Scholz, philosopher, dad, political gadfly and gamer.
Sunday, October 25, 2009
Sunday, October 11, 2009
Revenge of the Xianites
Today I watched my kids fly out of the house with a glee reserved usually for desserts or TV to play with the neighborhood kids. Now that Fall is upon the leafy walls which have kept us apart, the muggy mosquito filled airs which have deadened our senses, the camp, and pool and other summer fun which exhausted us, have gone away. And through the woods behind our house a glimpse of other kids playing and their siren like voices have seduced our children from their dark playrooms.
So far, so good.
After twenty minutes or so, Will returned to remove something from his shoe (why did he need to return inside to do so I don't know).
"How is going out there?" I inquired. "Playing Star Wars?" One of the neighborhood boys (age 7) has worn the same Clone Trooper mask on his head since Halloween last year.
"No... we're just talking about church... I don't really know much about it, so I'm not very interested." uh oh.
"Well.. have fun..." I say rather limply as he runs back.
A few minutes later, both kids return, saying that the neighborhood boys told them that if they don't pray right now they will GO TO HELL!.... Great.
Then, those same boys come over as well.
"Will, won't pray. And he said you don't believe in God."
"Okay" I say, diplomatically. "And?"
"If you don't pray you'll go to the fire of hell." (six year old berating me).
I am doing my best to be calm. He is young, these are our "good" neighbors.
"Well. I think differently. It is good for people to be different, right?" This seems to stall him. He wants desperately to say "no" but he senses that is the wrong answer.
There is a bit more banter where the kids tell us how to pray, and how easy it is. I am firm. "We don't do that."
Then the kids went on to tell us to remove our witch and ghosts from our front yard. Who is this guy the HOA? I tried to explain that EVERY house in the neighborhood has Halloween decorations up.
"But their one's aren't scary!"
"It's fun to be scared on Halloween." I invite them to take a closer look. They do, and seem satisfied that our stuff isn't too scary.
We nervously allow the kids to go play again. Again, our kids return after the play turns into the other kids shouting at our poor kids, Will is stunned and scared. Again the kids come back. I let them know that they are scaring our kids, and that they can't play with my children unless they will do something else.
There is a short burst of play. Then the neighbors go inside and I retrieve mine from loitering outside their house (we have a rule, no going into other people's homes without us).
We like our neighborhood. We like the families of these kids, and they are just kids. But, the tension here is getting pretty thick. I don't want a confrontation with the neighbors. We rode our the election without any problems despite our competing signage. Maybe we can ride this out.
I will give them one more chance, then it is time to talk to the parents, not something I really want to do. I did tell the kids I was proud of them no doing something that didn't feel right. Peer pressure can be hard enough, especially when the bigger kids can do all sorts of fun things (go into each others houses, ride bikes around the neighborhood unsupervised, etc..) I do want them to trust their instincts on this sort of thing, another reason I don't want to DEAL with this as a parent. If they can manage it, they might as well learn now, since this won't be the last I am sure.
I wonder how my neighbors would respond if my kids were to so much as speak their beliefs (about angels, unicorns and elves) to their kids, much less threaten them. I hope they'd be as tolerant.
Parenthetically. Our kids are very interested in churches, mostly from an architectural standpoint. They are intrigued by the steeples (rarely seen in other buildings). Carly usually tells them about the historical importance of church as town hall, social center and the like. I often refer to the olden days when people were afraid of ghosts and goblins and used to hide inside those buildings. (Okay so I am not entirely unbiased.) I am tempted to remind the kids about how afraid the big boys were of our ghost and witch decorations in connection with that story. Of course, I won't, but I am tempted.