Monday, September 15, 2008

God's Good Work?

Sunday was Him Downstairs’ birthday. An event Cheeky and Monkey have been looking forward to since the last family birthday was over back in June. For the obvious reason that the chance to eat birthday cake again couldn't come to soon.

HD had requested his first birthday present take up at least three hours of his morning (a lie in). So when the sound of little feet stampeding towards our bedroom came at the ungodly hour of 6.26am, he took a dive under the duvet and yours truly stumbled around in the dark.

6.34am:Can we give daddy his cake now?” “No darling," Yawn. "Let Daddy sleep for a bit longer.
7.00am:I want to give Daddy his present now! And can we have the cake yet?
7.15am:I don’t want bran flakes. I want cake!

And so it went on, me on clock watch, them on cake watch. At 10 to 10 I thought, ‘Sod this.’ We lit the candles, grabbed the presents and filled a breakfast tray full of tea and Frosties (HD’s favourite). He was woken by a rousting chorus of ‘Happy Birthday!’ and two small background singers chanting; “Cake! Cake!"

I tell you, the man had it made. The boys clamored onto the bed, thrusting their cards and gifts under his nose and Cheeky proceeded to feed Daddy his cereal and plaster him with kisses. He’s smart that boy. I had him sussed: 1) Feed Daddy the sugar-laden cereal and I’ll be able to sneak in a few spoonfuls for myself and 2) He’ll be so chuffed with kisses and gifts he’ll let me eat cake!

It was a sweet morning (except for the bags under my eyes and the yawning threatening to make appear bored with the whole event). The boys had made Daddy his very own tea cup to take to work and covered it with their handprints and messages of love. (Ok, I ‘fess up: I did the writing bit). Daddy was thrilled and sufficiently elated to let us all eat cake in bed.

The second birthday request was to go out for brunch. It was here we ran into Sin City.

Happily seated in our little booth enjoying eggs (mine poached, the boys' scrambled and HD’s absent: he doesn’t do eggs) we noticed a cute elderly couple sat opposite, smiling and nodding at the boys as they threw crayons round the table and bacon off the table. (The boys, not the seniors.) We were not-so happily engaged in the business of eating out with toddlers that later, I didn’t notice the blue-haired lady approach my side.

Excuse me," she said grabbing my elbow as my eggs were midway into my mouth. “ Let me give you this.” She thrust a piece of paper under my nose and on top of my plate. Caught too off-balance to take in all the words printed on her paper, I merely noticed the Ariel rounded MT bold ones at the top that read, ‘Lord hear Our Prayer’.

Oh no.

There was I foolishly thinking she’d come over to pay me a compliment on my parenting skills.

"Will you join us?” she asked, a little too close for my comfort.

My brain, as scrambled as the children’s eggs, spontaneously combusted and I plumped for the first Get Out Of Jail card I could muster. “I’m sorry," I said. "We don’t believe in God."

Strictly speaking, this isn’t true. I do believe. In something. My firstborn was christened in a lovely Oxfordshire church in England. HD and I sang ‘Lord of All Hopefulness’ under God’s gaze on our wedding day. But since we moved Stateside, I have struggled to find the right place for us to worship Him Above. Catholic, Baptist, Lutheran, Episcopal, Christian, Methodist, Pentecost there are so very many churches in our city, I am totally confused as to which one is closest to The Church of England that I know and err, (sorry Mum, sorry God) tolerate.

So, I’ve gone and avoided the issue. The lack of religious education in the local state school system does bother me, but mainly because I miss not going to the school Nativity play at Christmas. And Christmas? That really bothers me. Do the children round here realise 25th December represents more than mountains of plastic tat? I just can’t get into the swing of being politically correct and saying, ‘Happy Holidays’. It’s still, ‘Merry Christmas,’ that spills from my lips as the snow falls. Michiganders forgive me because to them I’m just ‘the crazy English woman with her funny ways.’

Anyway, Granny is truly shocked at my response. I’m hoping it hasn’t sent her pacemaker into overdrive (if she has one). She leans right into our booth and very loudly proclaims, “You’ll be very sorry!” And with that she’s already got God on the Cell Phone and telling him to refuse my family entrance at the Pearly Gates.

HD is baffled, but not defenseless. "Our religious choices are our business!” he calls after Granny. “Tsk,” he tuts. “Talk about trying to ruin a nice birthday breakfast!"

And with that we finish up our eggs and walk straight out into Sin City.

Photo Credit:


  1. He got to lie in until 9:50?! What a treat!!!!

    Avoiding the church issue here too . . . I'd hapily send the kids to the C of E primary school I went to, but the Christian schools around here are just too much! As for churches in the US - the Unitarians are probably closest to my general philosophy, but if I'm going to go to church I want the hymns and ritual I grew up with!

  2. Aah happy bday to him downstairs. Sounds like he had a lovely time. Now, you're not selling this American Dream thing to me...God over poached eggs, the weird cat lady and the heavily pregnant tattooed 20 year old who had the strength of ten men...

  3. AA - the whole church thing is a minefield I feel. I will put it on my list of things to attend to!

    ACTTF - Er yes, note to self: Must write about the glory of being in the USA sometime! (But that tends to revolve around my waistline, which is something I'd rather not draw attention to!)

  4. Nobody's afraid to force their opinion on other people in this country, are they?!

    By the way, glad to see that there's someone else who doesn't do eggs. Makes you feel like a pariah in America, I can tell you.

  5. Yikes. Just another example of the crazy Christian right ruining what was otherwise a perfectly good brunch. I think we know who SHE'LL be voting for...
    All my babies were born in Oxford. Where did you get yours Christened? I'm always amazed at how small world it is.

  6. Don't feel bad about it! People don't go around thrusting a card under your nose asking if you believe in Star Wars or whether you have taken cake into your life - why is it OK to do that with religion?
    Makes me very cross. I have a friend whose husband can't wait for the 'God Squad' as he calls them to knock on their door. He invites them in and run rings around them for sport!

  7. I got accosted by a God botherer in John Lewis in Glasgow !

    I ask you, what is the world coming to ?

  8. Happy BD to H.D.! Don't even get me started on the religion thing...O.H. and I are not religious in anyway shape or form but if Small Child wants to grow up believing then we will support her in any belief she chooses. There is so much spiritual stuff that you can find in every day life and I don't like the whole preachy preachy thing so good on you for saying what you think! And as for eggs....well.. if I see a slightly runny egg white I will run a mile! Would I like them over easy in the U.S of A?

  9. BOOW - Oh gosh no. They just barge on in and interrupt you whenever they feel like it. Drives me nuts! Land of Free Speech? Why can't they just sometimes, shut up?!
    (btw,I've seen US waitresses reel in horror when HD refuses eggs. You too?)

    Audrey - small world indeed, we were in Henley On Thames before we cam to USA.

    Tara - I'll not write exactly where I'd like to thrust those cards eh?

    AG - Not in HRH John Lewis of all places. Jeeeeesus. (Whoops. Sorry God. Again.)

    That girl? Preaching aint for me either - could you tell?! As for eggs over easy, have never dared ask for them as am not quite sure what it means?! I'll be brave one brucn and place an order, just for you!

  10. Hi, direct from the Black Box! I enjoyed hearing about the birthday. And I loved your response to the Church Lady. Probably the best thing you could have said!

  11. Hi there! Stopping by via Black Box! Great Blog!

  12. I must get a black box. It brought me to your site, which I have found very interesting, especially your post on Mom or Mum Wars. Since I've recently had a complete crash of my faith and am now thrashing about in a sea of chaos, I did enjoy reading about your views. Thanks very much.

  13. Sadly, that woman's behavior is indicative of too many religious followers all too eager to make you believe what they believe and they get rude as hell when you don't. It's almost as if they NEED to convert you to justify and validate their own beliefs and identities.

    Years ago, I was walking in a loal park when I saw a group of people playing volleyball. They invited me to play and I joined in. It was fun. After an hour or so, everyone was preparing to go on their way, and one of them said they meet at the park every week and to join in anytime. "Cool," I said, I will. I was excited to meet a group of people who were regularly playing. I talked a bit with some of them, and accidentally told them where I worked. Then one of them asked me what I was doing Saturday morning...

    because they meet regularly at the local school to worship God.

    Oh, boy. "I'll see if I can make it," I said. I did consider it before deciding not to.

    Suddenly, one of the guys - the leader of the group, I guess - started coming into the gas station where I worked and chatting me up, always asking when he'd see me at church.

    Finally, I said, "Listen, I'm not interested. I'm pretty busy on the weekends."

    I had hoped to leave it at that, but of course, he had to press me. He went on with a speech how he was a wretched sinner who lied, cheated, stole, and did any number of other sins short of murder and how church changed him. "We all need church."

    I told him that I didn't do any of those things, and by all accounts, I'm a pretty decent person without church, thank you very much.

    He couldn't accept that, saying we are all evil, rotten and worthless unless we have a relationship with God, blah, blah... The way his voice changed was scary, he sounded like one of those evil cultists you see in a movie.

    I don't remember what I said to end the conversation, but I'm sure it was something along the lines of "please don't ever come back here again."

    Anyway, great post, thanks for sharing. Sorry she had to ruin the birthday celebration.