My six-year old son, Snags, wants to take Karate. He was interested in doing so even before the movie Kung Fu Panda came out, but now that he’s seen the movie twice (once at IMAX!) he’s even more excited about the possibility. I think he will be disappointed when his first lesson doesn’t turn out to be full of jumping spins with karate chops and kicks and “HI-YA’s!” thrown in. It’s true, I’ve never taken karate myself, but being a child of the 80s, I have seen The Karate Kid, and I know Snags will end up waxing on and off, sanding floors, and painting a bunch of fences before he’s allowed to get a good side kick in.
This evening we were sitting around the house, doing nothing much but subjecting ourselves to the ear bleeding horror that is Kidz Bop 9, when Snags suddenly ran off to the kitchen where he dumped out an entire box of 24 Crayolas and started drawing something. He returned a few moments later with paper in hand, the page covered with a neatly drawn brown cross.
I’m not sure if it was something he heard in Kids Ruin Perfectly Good Songs Kidz Bop 9 or what, but Snags was suddenly in the mood to draw pictures about, and look at pictures about religion. My husband and I were in the mood to play dumb, so we pretended that we didn’t know what a cross was. We wanted to see how Snags would explain the symbolism behind the cross, but he wasn’t in the mood for explaining.
“Is it a plus sign?” My husband offered.
“No!” Snags said. “A plus sign is for math and for adding stuff.”
“Well then, tell us what the cross means,” my husband said.
But Snags wouldn’t talk.
“Is it a cross like ‘across’ the street?” I asked.
“NO!” Snags cried, before adding in exasperation, “You need a bible!” and running off to find one.
He returned with not one, but two bibles. He demanded that I search through the table of contents of his Precious Moments Bible for “Jesus” and read about the cross for myself, but I couldn’t find “Jesus” listed anywhere. I did find “Malachi” (page 826), but he, as you probably know, is from Children of the Corn, and that movie was too scary to be telling a young child about. And besides, I don’t want to give Snags any ideas, you know? I don’t need him leading some neighborhood uprising of kids with scythes.
Since the Precious Moments Bible yielded nothing, or at least nothing that I felt like reading to him, Snags turned to the other book he’d brought, Bible Stories for Children. He flipped through the pages until he found a drawing of Jesus on the cross with the two thieves crucified on either side of him.
Still playing dumb, my husband deduced from that photo that Jesus made crosses and sold them to people. Snags, totally exasperated with us at this point, announced that we needed to go to church every Sunday so we, his parents, could learn about the cross. Because clearly, HIS efforts to educate us weren’t working.
I thought we were done with the whole discussion but then we walked into the kitchen where I found another drawing on the kitchen table. “Oh,” I said proudly, as I pointed to the drawing. “What’s this? Kung-Fu Panda?”
Only… it wasn’t.
“Uh, noooo,” Snags said. “That is a picture of Jesus when he was a baby. Kung-Fu Panda has fingers, if it was Kung-Fu Panda I would have drawn fingers on him.”
Clearly, I stood corrected.
I’m ashamed to say it, but I laughed out loud. Hard. But I couldn’t help it. As if I’d entered a time machine, I was immediately taken back to one of the funniest episode of Friends I’d ever seen. It’s the one where Joey and Chandler are babysitting Ross’s infant son, Ben. Only they lose him, and then they find themselves in a situation where they are flipping a coin to determine which baby is Ben. Joey calls heads because “ducks have heads,” leaving Chandler to ask “What kind of scary ass clowns came to your birthday?”
I explained to Snags, as my husband hid his face and his own laughter behind the open refrigerator door, that I wasn’t laughing at him or his drawing, I was simply laughing at how wrong I was. And apparently at how much I missed at church over the years. I never knew the Baby Jesus didn’t have any fingers. I hope they talk about it at church this Sunday. And I hope it doesn’t have anything to do with Malachi. If it does, I’m gonna have to send that Panda after him. Because he’s got fingers.