I remember one night, not too long ago, when our 8-year-old’s homework assignment was to read a chapter from his religion book. As Quinn and I finished the section about patron saints, we chatted about the patron of ‘this and that’ and he mentioned St. Benedict—his favorite since learning about him in first grade.
Quinn: What’s Benedict the patron saint of? Monks, I guess.
Mom: I guess. Let’s check.
I grabbed his copy of “Book of Saints for Catholics Children.” As I flipped through the A’s: Agatha the Pure Virgin, Agnes, Aloysius, etc., to get to Benedict—here it came:
Quinn: What’s a virgin?
In the deafening silence of his bedroom, the narrative in my head resembled Elaine’s silent freak-out on the Seinfeld episode when she’s trapped on the subway [refresh your memory here]:
Nooooooooooo!! I knew this day would come, but not tonight. I’m too tired. Blessed Virgin Mary. We hear it all the time. What *is* that answer I’d prepared for this occasion? Why is my mind blank? Why is my mouth dry? WHERE is his father? Matt? MATT?? Can I pretend I just fell asleep? What. Should. I. SAY????
OK, just calm down and say something. Give an age-appropriate answer, without providing more detail than needed, or more than he asked for.
Mom: Well, you know how Dad and I are married? And you know how some of the saints consider themselves married to Christ, and Christ is married to his Church? Well, that’s a virgin: someone who’s not married to another person, but married to Christ.
Quinn: Like a sister?
Really? We’re good?
Though I’m sure few [no] theologians, pediatricians, or many parents for that matter, would approve of my response, I figure it’s not the last time the topic of virginity will come up. There will be ample opportunity for us [and by "us" I mean his father] to elaborate on it later.
And to think, I could’ve avoided—or at least delayed—the whole thing if I’d only remembered that Benedict is *indeed* the patron saint of monks… as well as Europe, kidney disease and students.
I WELCOME YOUR COMMENTS: What challenging questions have your kids asked? How did you handle it?
Copyright 2012 Julie Filby
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