Over the last few months, my daughters and I have snuggled up together under blankets to read our latest bedtime stories from an anthology called “In the Beginning: Creation Stories from Around the World.”
Like a good humanist Mom, I wanted to make sure my girls knew all about various religious traditions rather than being indoctrinated into a specific viewpoint. I wanted to make sure all religious myths were given equal footing in their lives rather than hearing only stories from Genesis. I wanted to make sure they saw the rich tapestry of beliefs that make up the cultures of our world rather than think one particular story was “divine.” I wanted a cozy yet educational experience with lots of reflection and deep thinking.
What I got instead? Two young girls doubled up laughing!
It started with the very first story, the very first page. “The Pea Pod Man” is an Eskimo myth about a trickster raven god. Here is how it went.
Me (reading): “Time was, there were no people on Earth. The first man still lay inside the pea pod.”
8 year old (giggling): WHAT? Like, inside a bean??
And it continued through the second story, “Quat the Creator,” a myth about a sun god who creates humans from wooden puppets.
Me (reading): “The brothers were all named Tangaro, but–”
6 year old (interrupting): They all had the same name?!
[Pause for 10 minutes of laughing.]
Me (reading, a bit later when Tangaro the Fool had created, buried, then forgotten his own wooden puppets): “What he found there had rotted. He was forced to leave his puppets buried, they smelled so bad.”
At this point, I admit I was chuckling along with them and by the time we got to Tawis-karong beating up his brother with a bag full of corn and beans in “The Woman Who Fell From the Sky,” we were just howling at all the ludicrous things in these stories!
Should I discourage the laughing? Maybe. Am I worried that they’ll laugh when they hear others share their Judeo-Christian creation stories? A little. But frankly, I’m glad they recognize the ridiculousness and rather relieved they aren’t prone to falling for the fiction. At least not yet. And we have some time to work on polite but truthful responses to religious traditions that won’t offend. Or won’t offend as much.
Hamilton, V., & Moser, B. (1988). In the beginning: Creation stories from around the world. San Diego: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich.