Tuesday, July 03, 2007

It's a Great Place to Visit

We're back from a wonderful, jam-packed week in San Fransisco (actually, one of its suburbs, but you know what I mean). We had a great time -- SF is an amazingly beautiful city, and the bay area has a ton of things to do with small children. M's favorite was the Bay Area Discovery Museum, which is practically under the Golden Gate Bridge. It has this great toddler area with streams stocked with plastic fish, where the kids can splash and play. The day we were there, there was also a "concert" by the cast of some new PBS show. It was pretty lame -- five people in brightly colored dog suits dancing around to a barely audible soundtrack for about five minutes. Need I say that M loved it? Afterwards, she insisted on meeting and hugging all five dogs. We caught another glimpse of them later on as they left the museum, and it's as if she saw the Beatles, with the screaming and the crying and the blowing kisses. The entire rest of the week, she kept asking for "more doggies!" It was cute, in a horrifying sort of way.

It was also a lot of fun to see The Boy's sister and her family. M's cousin, also an M (ok, I'll call her MC to differentiate) is five years old, and M adored her. Every time we walked anywhere, M insisted on holding onto MC's hand, as well as the hand of one of the adults. Somehow, being around an older child really spurred M on in talking. By the end of the week, she'd managed to put together a few four-word sentences, and was able to order us to sing her favorite songs by singing the first few words herself.

As great as the trip was, though, I'm glad to be home and settling back into our routine. I'm also grateful that M's back in her own crib -- we shared a room with her in SF, and every night, she insisted on sleeping in our bed. For a small kid, she's a real bed hog, so she's pretty much the only one who slept there.

In other news, when we got home, we had our latest Netflix choice waiting for us; a documentary called Jesus Camp. If you haven't seen it, it's about a small camp in Nebraska for evangelical kids and their families. I have to say, it was one of the saddest, most disturbing movies I've seen in a while. On the first night of camp, their (extremely charismatic) youth minister gets up and starts screaming that the kids at the camp are liars and hypocrites, because she knows they're one person at church and another at school. After she's got a fair number of these kids crying in shame, she invites them to "cleanse themselves" in Jesus's healing waters (I'll betcha didn't know that Jesus's healing waters were bottled by Nestle, did you?)

And that was only the beginning of the festivities. One night, the kids are shown porcelain dinnerware on which is written the names of enemies of the faith -- government was the only one they showed prominently. Then the kids are given hammers and are invited to demolish the dinnerware. The violence of the activity was startling, especially as some of these kids are 9 years old or even younger. Another night was "pro-life" night at the ol' camp. Did you know that an embryo at seven weeks gestation looks exactly like a perfectly formed human being in every way, except that it's really, really small? Boy, were my ultrasounds mistaken.

Overall, the kids at this camp are drilled over and over that they're warriors for god, that we're in the middle of a war, and that they must be prepared to fight, even to the death, in defense of their faith. One of the minister's persistent refrains is that its a "sick old world," and the kids seem to be lapping the message up. I find it indescribably sad that kids this young are being taught violence and hate and negativity in the name of god. I know that the world can suck sometimes, but I have to believe that most people are inherently good, and I intend to raise M to seek that good. Otherwise, you're setting people up for a lifetime of sadness and anger. Why would any parent want that for their child?

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