The 40 Year Old Bat Mitzvah

The Good Guys

Posted in Uncategorized by Juliet on July 10, 2012

It’s summer vacation and Eva is off at Camp Ramah, which means Jane has long stretches of free time to water color, jump rope, play with her dolls, and just putter around her room.

The other day she was puttering around her room while I puttered around mine. I heard her pick up some books and start reading. She is at that phase of reading where punctuation is pretty much disregarded.

“Marley ran fast down the street were they going to catch him he kept running oh no it is a bakery marley knocked over a tray of cupcakes the baker was covered in flour.”

For example.

Once in awhile I’d hear her struggling with a word and mostly I’d just let her figure it out on her own through context or sometimes toss out a suggestion.

When she started reading “My First Passover Board Book,” there were some words that don’t sound out super easily.

Pharaoh. Egypt. Plagues.

The story of the Exodus is pretty interesting when you ponder it at its most elemental level, as words read all in a row, without aid of punctuation.

Then she stopped cold. Silence, then footsteps into my room, where I was hand washing our swim suits in the sink and hanging them up to dry.

“Mom, what does D-E-A-T-H spell?”

“Death.”

“Death? Like die?”

“Yes, death. Death of the firstborn was the last of the plagues, and of course the worst.”

She looked at me, looked down at the book in her hand, then stared off into space for a minute.

Then she said, in the tone of voice of someone who is being told a long and complicated story and wants to keep all the players straight in her mind, “But God’s good, right?”

And I knew what she was thinking. It’s what we all think at least a little bit as we act out the Exodus at the seder table each year during Passover: God is good, right? How is a “good God” also a God who kills? Aren’t the Egyptians “his children” too?

She scampered back and moved on to Barbies, but it definitely got me thinking about the complicated dance we do when we try to explain the nuances of morality to our children. How do we teach it as a code of conduct to our kids when we don’t even half understand this stuff ourselves?