I dropped the Blue Jay off at the Pre-school Camp this morning. She is going to be a Junior Leader at the Camp for this week. Something we've tried in the past with varying success. Although she loves being around and playing with little kids, she has on occasion been known to get a little bossy, once telling one of the Camp Counsellors that she was a teacher and they had to let her do her job. Oh well, practice makes perfect ...
She was quite excited (and nervous) to go this morning and on her own initiative she went to hunt up some "little kids" books to share with the pre-schoolers before we left home. Although I commiserated with her because she could only find two, I was actually quite happy as she had only recently allowed us to get rid of such books.
The two she found included one on keeping your teeth healthy and clean and a Clifford, The Big Red Dog book. Seemed like good choices. But when the Blue Jay proudly showed them to the Camp Director, she was told that they could probably only read one of the books to the children. She responded to my questioning look by telling me that they couldn't use the Clifford book, which had a Christmas theme. They "had to be careful because not everybody celebrates Christmas".
After mentally rolling my eyes and stifling a sigh, I casually mentioned that it was funny how times change. I was brought up as Jehovah's Witness and thus, never celebrated Christmas or any of the holidays as a child. But that no one really cared. We simply coloured different pictures or read different books. I neglected to mention to her that at the daily singing of 'O Canada" and recital of 'God Save the Queen' we were told to leave the classroom and wait quietly in the hall. With threats of severe punishment from our parents if we weren't quiet or showed any signs of disrespect.
The funny thing is it never had any effect on my psyche. In fact, the other students often expressed jealousy, they too wanted to go stand in the hallway. And not once did it occur to our parents (or ourselves) to commence a court action or complain about the matter in any way. How ridiculous would that be? After all, it was our (or perhaps more accurately) our parents' choice for us not to participate.
It strikes me that if we are so worried about the feelings of people from other cultures and other religions, we might be doing a better service to all if we attempted to expose our children to the differing religious beliefs, if any, of all the children in the group. What a great chance to learn about something different. But no, we wouldn't want to do that. Instead we will do our best to make our society completely secular.
Or at least that's what we say we are doing ... in reality, the child who ever brought in a book setting out their differing religious beliefs would likely be praised and exalted for the day. Which would be okay with me, if we gave fair time to them all. Including our own.
From one extreme ... to the other ...