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Chickadee was quieter than usual Monday afternoon, but it wasn’t until dinner time until I found out that another little girl in her class “can’t be friends anymore” because Chickadee isn’t a Christian.

Le sigh.  I knew this day would come eventually.  But 2nd grade?  Really?

What kind of asshole parent has their 8 year old so indoctrinated that they won’t play with kids that don’t do religion with Jesus?  Totally not WWJD, the hypocrites.  Can’t blame the little girl though, its the parents–what a smallness of spirit and an insecurity of the heart they must have.

Chickadee said the little girl asked her if she “could just pretend (to be Christian” to which Chickadee responded with “If I have to pretend to be something I’m not for you to be my friend, then you really aren’t my friend.”  When I asked what about it (being sad), she said, “Yes, but Mo-om, I have to follow my Jiminy Cricket” (meaning her conscience).

As a parent, I’m elated that my child is independent enough to stand up for herself…and I’m just a little bit heartbroken that not only is she losing a friend over this, but that a parent would put their child in a position to have to give up a friend because they are different.  That’s not how we have raised our children (but I can’t take all the credit–Chickadee is the kind of kid that takes on learning sign language in order to make friends with a little girl with a cochlear implant).  I can’t even fathom parenting that would seek to separate children from making friends on the basis of being different–what makes us beautiful is what makes us different.  And luckily that is not how most of her friends have been raised, since we are fortunate enough to live in a fairly diverse community (for the South).

But still.  This rankles.  And since I was concerned that this could become a problem for the rest of the school year, I spoke with her teacher after school on Tuesday to (as I put it to my mom) “to inform her of the situation, in case it became a problem”.

I think her teacher was more upset than I was.  As far as her teacher is concerned, not wanting to be someone’s friend because they belong to a different religion is “no different than choosing not to be someone’s friend because of their skin color” (and patently unacceptable in her classroom).   And, as far as the school is concerned, religion is something you talk about at home, not with your classmates.*  Chickadee informed me after school today that her class “got talked to” about those two concepts….

One of the challenges of Pagan parenting (or any parenting that isn’t in line with social norms) is helping foster the sort of confidence that lets a child stand up to their peers while maintaining an integrity to themselves (a second challenge was keeping Daddy from going nuclear over the threat to his precious pixie punk princess).

I can only hope that in the years to come she retains this ability–she is going to need it on many more fronts than this one.

*This is an approach that I understand, and can appreciate, if only because I can respect that it is easier (with all of the other crap schools and teachers have to deal with) to just not encourage it.  Although, I strongly think that schools should teach about world religions as a matter of fact, as part of world cultures, geography, history, and literature (the key words being teach , about, and fact)…something which is actually quite legal when done well , even in a public school setting.  Religious literacy is a crucial piece of cultural literacy and failing to teach about the basic facts of religions is a failing of our society.  With that having been said, I’m fairly sure that many US students would be failed (and I don’t mean in terms of grades) if if their schools did teach world religions (and I’m pretty sure this is a vicious cycle of ignorance).

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