Thursday, July 10, 2008

Holy Pringles, You Led Me into Temptation

A couple of weeks ago our four-year old came home from preschool with a mini canister of Pringles, unopened but decorated on the outside with joyful "I love Jesus" cutouts.

An optional "pull-out" program at her Christian preschool is Chapel Time, which is kind of like Sunday School except it's on Tuesdays. Two very sweet older ladies run it and there is nothing that brings them more bliss than the sound of prekindergarteners reciting the Lord's Prayer.

Why would non-churchgoing types like us willingly sign up our daughter for Chapel Time? There are several answers to that query; perhaps for me the most important one is that as a child I went to Bible School, to Confirmation Class, and to Youth Group, and all that religious indoctrination gave me accessible faith, knowledge of the Judeo-Christian mythology, and lots of memorable experiences. And it didn't keep me from being a critical thinker and decider when it came to the role of religion in my life later on down the line.

Another reason is that I think our philosophy on child rearing is that we're not going to be Opt Out parents. What I mean by that is we feel pretty comfortable exposing our children to an array of experiences and beliefs, with debriefs and discussion along the way. I remember being saddened as a 7th grade humanities teacher by the parent who opted her son out of participating in the unit on Islam on the basis that her husband was off fighting those "ragheads" whose culture we would be studying.

On the other hand, I recall the controversial "abstinence" assembly we held at the high school and the parent who shared that while she took issue with abstinence as a primary approach to sex education, she would encourage her son to attend the assembly because he needed to be able to listen and think critically to information and opinions from a variety of sources.

There's a difference to me between forthrightly declaring to children about any doctrine or belief, "That's a bunch of B.S.," and challenging them by asking, "Have you considered...?"

I guess I trust that my kids can and will grow up to make choices and adopt views that make sense to them, particularly if they know about and have experienced a wide world of ideas.

So Chapel Time is part of our daughter's Tuesday experience at preschool. And it certainly has raised issues in our household, what with her declaration of God as Our King and the question she asked the other day about whether or not I Praise God.

But when she came home with the Pringles, I was especially curious about the relationship between Potato Chips and Jesus, and about why a Pringles can was the medium for expression of faith that particular week. My daughter did not shed much light on the matter herself, except to say, "Potato chips are not Healthy Food, Mom, so they can be a special treat for me later on."

The can sat on the counter for days, praising Jesus and seemingly forgotten.

One night when the kids were in bed and my husband was asleep on the couch, I peeked inside the can. The foil seal had been peeled back! And a few Pringles were missing. My husband must have offered our daughter some chips as a snack at some point. I was impressed that most of the chips, however, remained in the can.

I took a few. Ahh, Pringles. That salty, familiar melting in the mouth unique to the brand, reconstituted potato products that are Pringles. They reminded me of long car rides and sailing trips, when my parents packed them as special treats. They never lasted long, of course.

Nor did the Pringles on the counter, as I made several guilty return trips to the can. I knew I was taking a rare treat out of the mouth of one of my babes. It was not unlike when my parents would eat our Halloween candy, late at night under the cover of darkness, I thought. Only these were Jesus Pringles, for heaven's sake. I should be ashamed.

And I was. I finished off the can--having reached the point of no return--and virtually hid the evidence by throwing away the empty container. I prepared to confess my sin the next morning.
But the Pringles went unmentioned. At some point a week ago or so, I remembered that she hadn't remembered, and I was somewhat amazed and a tiny bit grateful.

I should have known better.

On the way to school on Tuesday, alone with me in the car, she cocked her head and asked, "Mom, what happened to my chips from school?"

So I spilled my guts. I gave her the details of how it all (all the Pringles) went down (my gullet): how I was tempted, how I knew it was wrong to eat them without her permission, and how I had no excuse except that they were yummy--a poor justification for the (salty!) selfish act. And how I was very, very sorry.

Sweetly, without pause, she let me off the hook. And I promised to replace them.

P.S. We signed her up for Church Day Camp on Saturday. I vow to restrain myself if she comes home with a God-Fearing Candy Bar.

1 comment:

me said...

Thank goodness for those who realize, and are willing to teach children that Jesus is not all about being spiritually fed.