Why does this stuff always happen in the car? When I’m supposed to be paying attention to traffic? When I need to focus and I cannot put my head down and close my eyes and take several slow, deep breaths?
Ben, who is 8: Mom, did you know the president is not a Christian?
Me, making a heroic effort to breathe evenly and talk calmly: Well, let’s start this conversation by establishing that it makes no difference at all whether or not the president is a Christian. He doesn’t have to be a Christian to be a great president. And whether he’s a Christian or a Jew or a Muslim or a Zen Buddhist or a Wiccan or an atheist or a humanist is not actually anyone else’s business. Faith is personal. OK?
Ben, starting to get bored: OK.
Me, still totally winning an Oscar here for my portrayal of a reasonably calm woman: One of the best things about our country is that you can believe whatever your heart and mind tell you to believe about god, and you’re just as American as any other American. That’s one of the reasons lots of our friends believe lots of different things about god, and we’re all friends and we all love each other and we all treat each other with respect and kindness. That’s what American means.
Me, totally nailing the thing where I drive and suppress rage and explain the world to my son all at the same time: Really. And, by the way, the president is a Christian. The people who told you he’s not are lying. They’re lying and they’re looking for an excuse to hate. And I’m pretty sure that Bible they claim to believe in teaches that both of those things are very wrong.
Ben, after a few quiet minutes: Mom, can I read to you when we get home?
Me: Yes, I would absolutely love that. But I might need to lie down for a few minutes first.