'But What if Santa Believes in God?'

One of the best things about writing a parenting blog about religion is that people send you their funny, insightful and just plain cute religion-related kid stories. Especially if you ask them to. People who read blogs are nice that way. So, to brighten up your Thursday, here are seven stories guaranteed to make you smile — if not guffaw. Enjoy! And thank you, readers, for sharing your lives and laughter with me.

Laura wrote:

My 5-year-old daughter, Alice, and I were talking this past December about all the big questions: Who is God? Do you believe in God? How did the world get made? etc.  I answered in my best think-your-own-thoughts vein with things like: Some people believe God made the world, and other people believe the world wasn't made by anyone.  We talked about the Big Bang a little bit, and she seemed to be agreeing with the scientists and skeptics, and then she comes out with this worried-sounding question: "But what if Santa believes in God?"

From Harry:

It was late spring, after our garden was in, when our aging cat Maggie died. My daughter, 3 years old at the time, was handling it surprisingly well. She was talking about us burying Maggie with a glimmer of excitement. She was happy to help us push the dirt into the hole to cover her up. I was feeling really proud of the incredible parent I must be to have a 3-year-old able to handle death so lightly. Later that night, she was talking to her Grandma about what we had done that day. And then I heard her say, "We planted Maggie today, and soon we are going to have KITTENS!"

Carla shared this story:

Traveling down Interstate 57 near Effingham, IL, there is a giant, white cross erected by the side of the road.  My 3-year-old son, Gareth, says, "Look, Mommy, that is a big T!"  Not ready to have that conversation, I said, "Yes, that it is a lot of people's favorite letter." 

Tiffany wrote:

My son’s name is Loki, which, for some reason, was the only name my husband and I agreed on.  Both my husband and I are atheists, but we try to expose our child to different ideas, religious and otherwise, from all angles. It’s up to him to make the decision in the end. As a result, we read lots of myths.  Interwoven with Greek mythology are stories from the Bible, the life of Muhammad, and Loki’s all time favorite: Norse mythology (of course). After reading a particularly awesome ‘Loki story’ that day, my son put it all together. “Mommy,” he said, looking at me with all seriousness. “I am—a GOD.” 

This one came from Shahzad:

Before becoming an atheist, I had been attempting to raise my son Ijaz (about 4 years old at the time) in the Islamic tradition at home and had taken him to the mosque on two occasions for annual Eid prayers, where he was able to follow along with the Islamic prayers that required multiple prostrations. My wife and I assumed that he was doing okay with these annual visits, but we learned otherwise when he heard us discussing the upcoming Eid and immediately interrupted to clarify his disdain for the mosque visits by saying, "I don't want to go to that place where people lie down." It was funny to realize that this was what my son had taken away from our understandably half-hearted attempt at following my childhood religion.

Alexa said:

The boys and I had a really funny discussion a few months ago, when I was reading Greek myths to them. Sirus said, "Wait - how come there are 12 gods here? Is Zeus the same as the God who created Jesus?" When I said no, he asked, "So were they wrong? Or are we?" It's a good thing my mom wasn't in the room for that, she would have had a coronary when I said, "The answer to that question is, what would you rather believe?" 

One of my all-time favorites is this one, which I received via e-mail some months ago. Unfortunately, I can't find the original message and no longer have the name of the writer. If you're reading this and you recognize this story, please let me know!

Before school began, I chatted with my 5-year-old before bed one night. I told him about how he was going to be meeting all kinds of new kids at school. Some will look like him, some will look really different. Some will like all the same things he likes and some won't like those things at all, and some more still will like things he can't stand. Everybody is different and nobody is wrong when it comes to what they like and don't like. Then I explained that some people believe in a man who, according to beliefs, lives up in the sky in a place called "heaven" and from up there he watches over all the people on the Earth. Not everybody believes in him, but a lot of the kids he will meet DO. He asked me the man's name, so I answered "God." His response? "I don't think God is a good name for him. His name should be Rollbert."

God, That's Funny!

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There are few things I enjoy more than hearing stories about the cute and funny things young children say. I think it's the combination of their undeveloped vocabularies, eagerness to imitate adults and dead-pan delivery that makes kids of a certain age so damn engrossing. My nephew is about to turn 3 and running at full-throttle in terms of cuteness. Every single thing that kid says or does charms me to one degree or another. I remember when Maxine was 3 — I was always reaching for my notebook to write down things she'd say.

Here are some of them:

* I was teaching Maxine to write the letter "M" and giving her stickers each time she got it right. After a while, I said, "Now I want to work with you on A's." She said: "Now I want to work with YOU on TOYS."

* One day, I found Maxine standing in front of the toilet with a pool of urine at her feet. She hadn't been able to get to the toilet in time. "Mommy," she said. "I'm so sorry I peed on the floor. That was a wrong and bad idea."

* I asked Maxine if there was anything she hoped to get from Santa for Christmas. She said, "A pink teddy bear." I suggested she go tell our "Elf on the Shelf," Johnny, so he could relate her wishes to Santa. She found Johnny and said: "Johnny, please tell Santa I want a pink teddy bear for Christmas..." Then, as my husband and I exchanged one of those "isn't-that-cute" looks, she added: "And diamonds."

I could go on and on.

And, if you have young children, you could, too. Which, as it turns out, is precisely why I'm telling you all this. Starting today, I'll be collecting stories for my book (and this blog, of course) about kids and religion, and I need your help.

If I'd thought of this a couple of years ago, I might have called it "Sh*t My Kid Says about God." Now I'd rather die a slow, painful death than write a "Sh*t My Whatever Says About Whatever." But the point is roughly the same.

I'm looking for all your cute, funny, charming, surprising stories. And, seriously, anything goes. As long as your kid is involved, and it relates to God or religion or the nature of the universe, I'd love to hear it. It could be one line — my daughter once told me: "When the moon is up, God is holding the sun. When the sun is up, God is holding the moon" — or an entire discussion, like the one I related to you in this blog last September. It could even be a picture drawn by your kiddo, or relevant piece of writing.

My only requirements:

• If you include quotes, please be sure they are actual quotes.

• Email me at relaxitsjustgod@gmail.com or message me on Twitter (@WendyRussell), rather than telling your story in a comment.

• Please specify whether you'd like your name/your child's name to be withheld.

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Also, an another note, my Survey for Nonreligious Parents is going great. Thank you so much for your participation and for passing it along to others. Another few weeks like the one we had last week, and this thing will be just about wrapped up. Thanks again!