Friday, September 12

I was the kid who asked about Adam and Eve's belly buttons ...

... that song meant quite a bit to me when it first came out, it spoke to me a bit.
I was never particularly religious but I do remember when I started thinking that perhaps there was no god.
Anyway, I was at after work drinkies this evening (it has been a particularly shitty week, oh my oh my) and a work mate mentioned how she was monitoring her daughter's friendships. She said she no longer let a certain friend come over any more because she was a "bad influence".
Those words hit me, smacked me right in the face.
I guess I'd stopped thinking about it but, back when I was about 14, I was the bad influence. I was the girl mothers didn't let my friends invite over.
And this wasn't because I swore (though you may not believe that now), it wasn't because I stole, it wasn't because I didn't do my homework, it wasn't because I was too popular with boys, it certainly wasn't because I was developmentally "advanced" and likely to lead my friends astray (because you know it's the girls you least suspect who start earlier than the rest of us).
No, it was because I was questioning religion. Really, I had child atheist written next to my name on the roll (I saw that - Fuck, I was a kid, asking questions, isn't that what learning is supposed to be all about?)
The school called in the parents of my 3 best friends and advised them that I was a bad influence and we should be separated.
How do I know this is what happened? Well, because the parents told my friends when they asked why we had been separated, into different classes, different break times. And then there was something said by a teacher, I can't remember exactly what but ...
It all still makes me mad as hell.
And feel really sorry for that little girl who's no longer allowed to come over to play.
Adults can be such miserable fuckers sometimes.


Pink Granite said...

I am so sorry.
Adults can be flaming twits. Sometimes well intentioned, sometimes not so well intentioned, but twits natheless!

I went to Catholic school for grades 1-8. We were encouraged to question and challenge things. We used to discuss world affairs, politics, morals, ethics and the Vietnam War in our daily Religion class. Heck, I stood up in class and told a priest that he wasn't being sufficiently respectful to some of the students. Next thing I knew, they made me a Lector for Sunday Mass! I know I was fortunate to be part of such an open minded community.

It saddens me to think that you, many years later, were being so badly done to. And for no good reason except you were prodigiously bright and had sufficient backbone and gumption to ask absolutely reasonable questions!!!

The idea of a "bad influence" puts me in mind of a set-to I had with parents, back when I was in high school. A boy asked me out to a Homecoming Dance. I accepted. When I told my parents he had asked and I had accepted, they said I couldn't go. Why? There was some sort of scandal associated with his older sister.
Ever quick on my feet, I asked "So that means if one of my older sisters did something wrong/bad/scandalous, then some boy's parents should tell him not to date me?"
I wore a lovely green dress to the dance and he and I had a fun evening!
- Lee

e said...

"Child atheist"! Well, I hope that by now you can wear it like a badge of honor - visionaries and thinkers are often misunderstood and maligned.

I'm very sorry for that little girl, too, it's hard when you're little to realize it's the grown-ups who are being dicks and that there's nothing wrong with you.

Zoomie said...

I had some similar experiences as a questioning child - if they had only let me question, I might actually be religious today instead of what I am now, adult atheist! :-)

Ms Brown Mouse said...

Lee, thanks, I'm over it mostly, but now and again it does bubble to the surface. And, a green dress, I love green dresses I bet you were the belle of the ball too.
E - you've given me an idea. Off to the badge shop I go, or perhaps I'll have it put on a t-shirt!
Zoomie, I suspect if they'd left me alone I may well have bumbled along not really thinking about it, an agnostic, not really caring. But you push me & I push back - I can't believe all adults don't know that. Perhaps it's true, perhaps most adults don't remember what it's like to be a kid.

Pink Granite said...

You're welcome.
It really was pretty dress as well as a triumph of teenage independence.

But I still want to go kick someone on your behalf!

Re a badge or a T-shirt:
Try over at Cafe Press ( ).
Type "atheist" in the search box. You'll find more than 25,000 designs on more than a quarter of a million products!
- Lee

Roo said...

I thought I would just chuck in this: I was once chucked out of church for farting too loudly; I was slapped by a nun and told to stand on my chair as I wouldn't eat my sprouts; I was an alter boy, and brought up in Catholic schools all my life; My father looked after the church ground in his spare time, looked after the football teams, and, en-familie, we all attended church - right up until the misguided, priest said he wouldn't marry my brother in church because he was marrying a Protestant. My dad sat us down, told us what his decidion was, and we could make up our own minds about whether we went back to church or not. An entire family left that church, and that priest rose up through the ranks, instead of being horsewhipped.

Ms Brown Mouse said...

Roo, I'm the child of a "mixed" marriage, but my dad sold us out before we were born, promised we'd be raised catholics so he could marry my mum. My favourite aunt, when told she couldn't marry in church because (a) her beloved was not catholic and (b) he was divorced *gasp*, got in her car, drove around town until she found the prettiest church and popped in and asked if she could get married there, the Rev said "of course". So some religous fellows do indeed deserve horsewhipping, others, not so much.
I'd wager your special do won't be in the catholic church, their loss though.

Urban Koda said...

There are a few kids I discourage my kids from playing with, but it's more because there are actual bad influences - beating up on my other kids, fighting and that kind of thing. Interestingly enough it's the good christian kids who do this. The children of the atheist down the street are the most respectful, pleasant little kids to have over.

You've probably seen this, but I watched this lecture by Richard Dawkins this morning - it's had my mind going all morning.,2989,Richard-Dawkins-Lecture-at-UC-Berkeley,Richard-Dawkins

Ms Brown Mouse said...

UK - cool, I'll go watch that at the weekend.
I've generally found athiests to be nice people, law abiding, kind etc. Perhaps it's because we do things because we think it's the right thing to do, not because we are afraid of punishment in the afterlife!

Urban Koda said...

I think you hit the nail dead on the head with that. As I have wandered from the flock, I've found 2 things...

#1 - People who don't believe in the invisible friend, aren't terrible, immoral people. Most are actually more moral and honest.

#2 - Since I gave up my belief in Satan (the invisible foe), my personal confidence level and trust in my judgement has sky rocketed as well.

There is something incredibly liberating about no long thinking you're merely a puppet with someone else pulling the strings.

Ms Brown Mouse said...