To say that the small city I live in is home to a majority of practicing Christians would be kind of like saying if you visit Israel you might find some Jews. This is a city where it's common to see businesses promoting themselves with the fish symbol for Christians , or a big sign saying, 'I ♥ Jesus' on the wall in my son's preschool. I've been asked repeatedly if I believe in God during casual conversations. Once I had to explain to a teacher that the Torah doesn't normally include the New Testament.
With this as his daily environment, it's not terribly surprising that Javier has come home from school to solemnly announce that "Jesus is rainbow-coloured," and to make sure I know that Jesus can fly. He drew a picture of a church as a gift for his teacher (the one with the 'I ♥ Jesus' sign), and she gave him a hug and asked him if he went to church too.
Last Wednesday, a very large but completely harmless wolf spider came crawling across the kitchen floor right where Javier was removing his shoes. He did his usual 'I-think-I'm-culturally-required-to-reac
Then Javier said, "Spiders belong to Jesus."
Dom and I looked at each other.
"You mean, Jesus made spiders?" I tried, thinking that either Jav or one of his friends at school had misremembered the creation story from the Bible, and wondering how I could steer the conversation (again) to Mommy and Daddy's atheism while still encouraging Jav's belief in magic and Santa Claus. (Early childhood is all about cognitive dissonance. Don't look at me like that.)
"No," Javier said. "Jesus didn't make spiders. They belong to him. And ants."
"Who told you this?" I asked, now confused as hell.
It turned out it was his teacher, and after several more minutes of circular questions and answers and a very frustrated five-year old, the flummoxed parents were finally told this:
One of my kid's classmates at school had purposely stepped on some ants. The teacher had told him not to, because ants belong to Jesus. I'm afraid I don't remember how Jesus ended up being the patron saint of Arachnids as well; it's possible Jav's teacher said so, or Jav decided it himself since spiders are also freaky and creepy-crawly. It's horrible! It must belong to Jesus!
His teacher didn't say why Jesus has this particular relationship with arthropods however, which is where my brain exploded. I ended up fumbling around a simplified version of why some people might think that Jesus owns the world by proxy until Javier's eyes glazed over and he asked if he could watch TV.
I'm sure that at this point Javier thinks that Jesus was a real man who was killed because he was rainbow-coloured and who lives in the sky but not really and who can't grant wishes because you need rainbows to make a wish, except Jesus is rainbow-coloured so maybe he can, and he doesn't own the world but does own ants and spiders and lived a Long Time Ago but not when the world was a baby world and there were dinosaurs.
I'll just be over here contemplating the psychiatrist bills. And mopping up my brain.