Yesterday the kids got out of school for Easter break and they were laden with Easter goodies and candy. Since it’s a Christian school, some of it was more holy than others. Some of it came with religious teaching attached or as part of a lesson to impart the message of Jesus’ resurrection. I’m good with that. I happen to think that candy for candy’s sake glorifies God all on its own if it’s tasty enough, but if you want to try to teach a kid something about Jesus WITH that candy, then more power to ya.
Caden-7yr asked if he could read a poem and then share jelly beans with his brothers. “Of course,” I said, and shhhed the brothers so they would pay attention.
Caden-7yr reverently opened a plastic lavender Easter egg and held 8 jelly beans in his hand as he read a poem about the significance of each color as it pertained to Easter. I wondered how dirty his hand was.
I remembered my best friend in junior high and high school, Beth, and how once we’d been at a Methodist church camp and a lady had told a WAY TOO LONG story that was similar to Caden-7yr’s brief poem. This woman had a very thick accent and I can still hear her voice – easily – if I try. As she told her story to the campers, she would name a color and tell us what it symbolized. She would then pour a dixie cup of that color paint over a white ceramic woman’s head. The ceramic woman was named Grace. Actually, with that lady’s accent, the ceramic lady was named Graaaaaaaace. And as the church camp lady poured a dixie cup of black paint over Graaaaaaaace’s head she said, “Graaaaaaaace exPEEEReeeuhnced seeee-uhn.” I’d never heard of sin being called seeee-uhn, so I was somewhat interested. At the end she poured something over Graaaaace’s head that symbolized Jesus’ blood and Graaaaaaaace dramatically turned back to pure, white ceramic perfection.
At the time, I did not value that part of the story.
I greatly valued the part about how Graaaaace exPEEEReeeuhnced seeeee-uhn. That was both fascinating and comical. After that, any time my friend Beth and I were somewhere and we saw a girl do something morally wrong – or if one of us was the perpetrator – one of us would invariably whisper that accented refrain to the other one.
But yesterday after school, we all listened politely to Caden-7yr’s poem and offered perfectly wise and mature feedback on the religious importance. Because my elementary aged children and I are so much more mature than I was in high school. Then Caden-7yr distributed jelly beans. I asked if anyone actually liked jelly beans. I don’t. I think they’re disgusting. But no one answered.
Then… there was a dramatic and unholy yelling and spitting from the backseat. Caden-7yr was foaming black bits at the mouth and gagging. And yelling his precious baby head off. “OH MY GOSH THAT TASTES SOOOOOO BAD. THERE IS SOMETHING WRONG WITH THAT BLACK JELLY BEAN, IT IS NAAAASTY!”
“Well. It was the sin jelly bean,” I say. “Go ahead and spit it into the Easter egg.”
“SIN TASTES SOOOO BAD. THE SIN JELLYBEAN IS SO! GROSS! OH! WOW, THAT’S NASTY! SIN IS BAAAAAD.”
He gags and spits it out and goes on for a bit. He’s a dramatic kid, that one. When he calms down, he announces he will try the white jelly bean. “What’s the white one for…?”
“Grace. Weren’t you listening to yourself?” I ask.
“Yes. But I forgot,” he says, and pops the white jelly bean into his mouth. “OOOOH NASTY! THAT’S SO GROSS. GRACE IS NOT ANY BETTER. YOU WOULD [spit, spit, gag] THINK THAT GRACE WOULD BE SO MUCH BETTER THAN SIN, BUT IT ISN’T AND IT TASTES JUST AS BAD!”
“Caden-7yr. Do you think maybe you just don’t like jelly beans? I don’t. It’s okay. You don’t have to eat them.”
There was one more jelly bean. Pink. It symbolized New Tomorrows. He gagged it down and lamented how New Tomorrows should really taste a lot better than sin and maybe nearly as good as grace, but that it didn’t work that way.
His brothers gobbled up whatever colors of jellybeans they’d been given, said thanks, and gave no comment or thought to their flavor or religious meaning. Seth-5yr was discussing how he’d done an art project and used a “yot of gyue on uh Easter chick and it had got my hands very, very hairy. VERY gyue-y and then VERY hairy.” He held his hands out for inspection, and he was indeed covered in yellow faux chick fur. But he seemed happy about it.
Ethan-11yr discussed an Easter recipe we should make involving dough and marshmallows. “The marshmallow, inside the dough, somehow disappears during baking. It totally represents the empty tomb, Mom!”
“Yeah, I got that. But I went to two grocery stores looking for good sushi today and I don’t really want to go back again.”
Keep in mind that this is my child who is Still Obviously Recovering From A Head Injury and who is Totally Used To Getting His Way On Everything Right Now Because We Feel SO Bad. And I’d just said no, I don’t want to go to the grocery store. He was surprised.
“Really, Mom? You’ll go to TWO grocery stores for sushi but you won’t go back FOR THE EMPTY TOMB?”