"Mom, what's Easter about?" Bear asked me one day a few weeks ago, without so much as looking up from what he was doing.
"Wha...huh? Em...uh...well...that's a really good question, Bear," I stammered, totally taken aback and also really impressed.
The problem was that I had no idea how to answer that question. I mean, I knew what the answer was, I just wasn't sure how to share that information with Bear without traumatizing him. Although we're a Christian family, Bear's issues have pretty much prevented us from attending church on a regular basis...or a semi-regular basis...or at all...so he hasn't been exposed to the darker side of the Christian story. Sure, I talk to Bear about God, but it's more the warm and fuzzy stuff.
I could just see how this would go...
"Well, Bear, you see, a very long time ago, Jesus -- you remember me telling you about him, right? -- and you've learned about him at school, right? -- you know, Jesus? (insert French accent because Bear goes to a French school) -- well, he's God's son. And there were a bunch of really bad men who didn't like him, so they decided to punish him and kill him. What? How did they kill him? Um...well...it's not very nice, but back then they nailed people to a really big cross, and they died there. Oh, don't look like that, Bear! It's OK, cause God knew it was going to happen. In fact, He planned it. Why did He plan it? Um...well...that's another really good question. No, you're right, it doesn't sound very nice. No, it doesn't make him sound like a very good father. But back then people had to sacrifice a lamb to get God's forgiveness for their sins. What does sacrifice mean? Um...well...they took the lamb and..."
You get the point. I just didn't see this ending well. So I pretty much took the coward's way out.
"At Easter we celebrate God and Jesus," I told him. Short and sweet.
"Oh, like a birthday?" he asked.
"Nope, Christmas is Jesus' birthday. At Easter we just...um...celebrate them."
Then it occurred to me that surely they're teaching him about Easter at school. It was the week before Easter and Bear goes to a Catholic school. Surely they've figured out how to talk to a 7 year old about Easter.
"What are they teaching you about Easter at school, Bud?" I asked.
"Huh?" he asked, looking up from his game. "Uh...um...I don't know," he said, looking back down.
Obviously they hadn't said anything too traumatizing, so I let the subject drop. OK, then...let's just leave it there and be happy we got off easy this time.