Written yesterday; held off until I got my son's permission.
We had a loss in the family this week. My son found out just before going to school, and found himself explaining why he was crying at school. A brief conversation ensued. (Names changed, except for my son, David.)
He told me about it after school. It was a normal conversation to him. Everyone's conversations should go like this.
David: "I told Cody and Brandon about what happened."
Me: "And what did they say?"
David: "Cody said he was sorry for my loss, and that [insert religious belief here]."
Now, we talk about these things all the time, especially the last few days. David is enormously curious, compassionate, and opened-minded; which I think is a fantastic combination. He's changed his mind a million times on the Big Questions, which I also think is fantastic. I knew he did not believe this particular religious claim, at least today. He happens to think it's kind of silly. The Oh-no-what-did-you-say alarms started to go off in my head.
Me (in a deliberate, level voice): "Hmm. That's interesting."
David: "It is interesting! I think it's really interesting. But it's not true. At least, I'm pretty sure it's not true. I don't even know if I want it to be true, but it really doesn't make any sense to me. That's what I told Cody."
Me: "Oh? What exactly did you say to him?"
David: "Well, I just said 'Thank you. That is comforting. I don't really believe [religious belief] is true, but I think it's a nice story. Thanks for being so nice to me.'"
Me: "And what did he say to that?"
David: "He asked me why I thought that. I told him, and then I asked him if he was someone who thought anyone who has different opinions goes to Hell. He said, 'No; that's stupid. Everyone can have their own opinions.'"
Me: "I am really, really proud of both you and Cody. What happened next?"
David (shrugging): "Brandon told me a story about his dog dying. I think he was trying to be sympathetic, so I told him thank you. Then we all played kickball. Only WE use special rules..."
[Fifteen-minute soliloquy on special kickball rules omitted for brevity.]
Kids. They are freaking awesome.