The Cheating Scandal

confirmationI may be going to hell.

Before I divulge the reason, I wish to make a statement on my own behalf. The following is an account of an isolated incident which has no bearing on my core standards as a parent.

Beagle missed the appointed Religious Education class during which he was meant to take an exam in preparation for receiving the Sacrament of Confirmation. So he had a make-up exam on his own time, in a private room, in which I joined him due to lack of waiting space.

Prior to the test date, I tried in vain to get Beagle to study. In a show of teenage defiance he staunchly refused. So of course he didn’t know the material. Beagle is a good student, unaccustomed to, and uncomfortable with, failing. Sweat beaded on his forehead and his leg started tapping nervously.

In my hand was the study guide that had been provided. It asked for lists: 10 commandments, 5 precepts, 7 sacraments….on and on. As I looked over the questions, I realized that I, a lifelong Catholic with a parochial school education, would struggle with this test. On the spot I made a radical decision to slip the answers to Beagle.

Pause for gasps and harsh judgment.

Did she just admit to helping her son cheat on a religious exam?!

Indeed I did.

Husband and I decided long ago that we would raise well-informed, well-rounded little people. This included a plan to study and practice religion within the parameters of our faith. We also agreed that it is foolhardy to expect them to embrace it any more than they embrace quadratic equations. Both are full of unknown variables and require a level of understanding that taxes the brain.

Beagle has been struggling in his faith. He likes to provoke me by claiming atheism.

“How can you quit on God when you’ve barely met Him?” I ask.

Despite his resistance, Beagle decided to go through with Confirmation. He took the name of St. Thomas because Thomas was a doubter, too.

The bishop started his homily with words of encouragement to all the parents, grandparents and godparents in attendance. He said, “You will not be judged by your child’s adherence – (or lack thereof) – to his faith…..You have done what you could. Now it’s up to him.”

I could be wrong, but I think the bishop looked directly at me and bestowed an absolution for my collusion in the cheating scandal.

When all was said and done, I quizzed Beagle. I needed one last attempt to affirm that he had learned something about religion in the past 16 years. “Just tell me, in your own words, what the Church wants you to know about being a good person.”

Beagle replied, “Don’t diss your parents. Don’t smack talk your neighbor. Don’t cheat on your wife or your god if you have one. Don’t kill, steal or do other things you know are wrong. And go to church every once in a while.”

I think he got the gist of it.

Super-Connected

universeIt was a dark, rainy night on a slick highway….

A very cliché but accurate backdrop that begins my creepy story.

Principessa was at crew practice and due to arrive home soon. The rest of the family were at home going about their business in various rooms.  Out of the blue, we each heard a sound that was mutually described as eerie.  It sounded as if Principessa was crying out in distress.  I might have second-guessed my hearing if Peach hadn’t nervously called out, “Did anyone else hear that?  It sounded like P. screaming. Is she home?”

No.

Unable to determine another likely source of the mysterious sound, we returned to our individual activities.  I hope that wasn’t one of those crazy stories where a person is really in trouble and her loved ones sense it, I thought.  All manner of tragic situations ran through my mind.  Principesssa was rowing at night on a river in the frigid early spring weather. I offered a fervent prayer for her safety.

When Principessa walked through the door looking unscathed, I greeted her casually.  “How was practice?”

“Fine.” she replied, giving no hint of emotion.

“Good, because the weirdest thing happened a half hour ago.  We all heard you scream.”

Principessa burst into hysterical tears on the spot and started trembling all over.  “I ALMOST GOT KILLED ON THE HIGHWAY A HALF HOUR AGO!!!”

A car had swerved into her lane and nearly pushed her into the guardrail.  Principessa skidded off the road but managed to recover without further incident.

Of course we phoned family and friends immediately – some of whom have had similar experiences. Each had his or her own explanation of the event.  But none could remove the feeling that a force beyond our human understanding was afoot. One doesn’t have to be spiritual or cosmic or crazy to be awed by the whole affair.  Sister-in-law deepened the mystery when she reminded us that this date was Prinicpessa’s deceased grandfather’s birthday.  And this year marks the 20th anniversary of his passing. Perhaps his spirit had a hand in her ultimate safety.

Principessa has recently expressed her fear that we will forget her when she goes off to college in a few months.  She will be 400 miles from home and worries that her place in the family will become less important.  We may have dispelled this concern with our evidence of super-connectedness.

I know one thing for sure: if ever I hear Principessa cry out while she is at college, I will be sending  campus police on a manhunt for her.

louise hay quote

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