Monday, December 12, 2005

Freedom of Speech

When I picked C up from school today he climbed into the car and burst into tears. At first he refused to tell me what was wrong, but by the time we had made it out of the parking lot it all came pouring out. Apparently, another little boy in C's class had told him he couldn't talk about the Baby Jesus. After getting over my initial shock that my son was bringing up Jesus in playground conversation with friends, I quickly tried to explain to C that no one could tell him what he could or couldn't say.

Mommy: "Just because someone tells you that you can't say something doesn't mean you can't say it C."

C: "But he said I can't say it. It made me sad. I like to talk about the Baby Jesus. It's almost his birthday."

Mommy: "Well, if that's what you want to talk about then you should talk about it. Other people can choose whether they want to listen to you or not, and someone may decide that they don't want to hear about the Baby Jesus, but they can't stop you from talking about him."

C: "Why?"

Mommy: "Remember the pilgrims from Thanksgiving?"

C: "Yeah, the ones who hadn't built the grocery stores yet."

Mommy: " Right. Well, do you remember why they left their homes?"

C: "No."

Mommy: "Because they didn't like how the government where they lived did things. One of the things they wanted was something called freedom of speech. Which means that they wanted to be able to say what they wanted to say without getting in trouble. And they also wanted to be able to pray to God how they wanted to pray to him instead of how their government told them to."

C: "Uh huh...."

Mommy: "So when they wrote the rules for their new home, one of the rules was that everyone could say what they wanted to without getting in trouble."

C: "So I can talk about the Baby Jesus even if he told me I couldn't?"

Mommy: "Right. No one can tell you what you can and can't say."

C: "But what if he doesn't want to be my friend anymore?"

Mommy: "Well, that's a decision that you'll have to make. You can say whatever you want, but you also can't force him to listen to you."

C: "Oh. But I like being friends with him."

Mommy: "Do you want to be friends with someone who tells you what you can and can't say?"

C: "I don't know. I guess not. But maybe I could just decide not to talk about the Baby Jesus around him."

Mommy: "You could do that."

C: "I'll have to think about it."

I think that's the best one can ask of an almost four year old. Peer pressure is a bitch.