Dear Sister Veronica: Thank you, and we’re sorry.

Dear Sister Veronica,

We’d like to thank you for taking Boy Child under your wing during his first term of school. Prep can be a difficult adjustment for many kids, and the fact that we’ve chosen a religious school has meant that he’s had to adapt to more than just the class routines. As you may have guessed, your religious education lessons have been his first real exposure to Christian stories, or indeed religion of any kind. We’re heathens atheists over here. Our son’s indoctrination into the Church of Science began in toddlerhood, thanks in equal measure to the works of They Might Be Giants, David Attenborough, and his own relentlessly logical and enquiring mind. Apart from the few times I considered calling an exorcist during his most spectacular tantrums, religion really hasn’t played any part in our lives before now.

In view of this home environment, you may wonder why we chose to send him to your school, with its chapel and its crucifixes (crucifixi?). Was it the excellent resources? The dedicated staff? The small size and community atmosphere? Well, kind of, but mostly it was laziness our ruthless dedication to efficiency, since we live a stone’s throw away and secured the services of a daycare mother who can actually PICK HIM UP FROM HOME to do the school run on days I have to work. The exorbitant fees and the fact that we’d need to have a few diplomatic conversations about Jesus seemed totally worth it for the convenience. But I’m getting the idea that things are going to get complicated. So, thank you for your kindness so far. And please accept our apologies for anything he’s said or done that’s been particularly awkward or challenging. I’m sure there’s more to come. I hope you’re writing these down.

Thank you for helping him settle in with his teacher on the first day, and making sure he was introduced to the little classroom rituals. Sorry he misinterpreted the daily greeting and sang ‘Good morning, Sister! Mango bless you’ for the first couple of weeks. I confess, I knew he was saying it wrong, but didn’t have it in me to correct him because it was SO CUTE, and also just a little bit subversive, which I love. He figured it out eventually, and now he wants to know who God is, and who sneezed, and why we need His permission to say ‘bless you’.

Thank you for teaching the children that Jesus lives in their hearts. Sorry my kid was the one who steadfastly asserted ‘Not mine. There’s only blood in mine!’.


Thank you for giving him a special role in the Palm Sunday service. Sorry he called it ‘The Jesus Concert’. He was so proud of himself carrying that donkey figurine down the aisle. I’m pretty sure he thought all his classmates were waving palm fronds and calling ‘Hail to the King!’ for his benefit. His self-esteem, as you will be aware, is robust.

Thank you for teaching them about the crucifixion and resurrection. I particularly enjoyed Boy Child’s retelling of the Easter story at home, in which ‘Baddies smoked Jesus with a cross, and then His friends took Him and buried Him in a room with a big rock over the door. And the next day, when they went to visit the room – HE WAS RIZZ! RIZZ from the dead!’. Sorry if he’s taken some convincing on this one. You see, because he’s such an impulsive thrillseeker, we’ve very deliberately had serious conversations with him about death, and how permanent it is (for example, cutting the live extension cord in half with secateurs should have resulted in death, which is why Mummy was crying and Daddy was shaking when he did that at the age of three. Ditto running across roads, diving into rivers, climbing to the top of high things, picking up spiders, et cetera). He knows, because we’ve drummed it into him: Dead is dead. So, he was perhaps more skeptical than his classmates when he was first told that Jesus had ‘rizz’. I understand there was an argument of sorts, in which he refused to believe that was even possible. He now seems to have gotten comfortable with the idea, in the same way he got comfortable with Santa using a secret key to get into houses with no chimney, or the Easter Bunny being able to reach us by boat that time we were staying on Fraser Island. He’d like a firm answer on Jesus’ current location though. Since He’s no longer dead, my son’s logical mind tells him He must be alive somewhere (albeit quite elderly). The concept of ‘ascension unto heaven’ is all a bit much for him, I’m afraid. Maybe next year?

Honestly, I can’t wait to hear what he has to say about Christmas when it rolls around. I guarantee he’ll want to know the meanings of at least ‘manger’, ‘myrrh’ and ‘virgin’. I don’t know about you, but I’m going to start preparing my answers now, while I have the chance.

Good luck! I think we’re both going to need it.

Gratefully yours,

The Heathens

7 thoughts on “Dear Sister Veronica: Thank you, and we’re sorry.

    1. That’s hilarious! Don’t tell me that’s how we used to say grace? I have nooo recollection of that, but it certainly sounds plausible. A friend’s kid apparently came home from school saying he’d learned about ‘The Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost. Amy. Who’s Amy, Mum?’


  1. I love it! I’m Catholic, hubby is agnostic, I am raising the kids Catholic, and this is about right for conversations that happen around our house. My husband and I actually have a bit of fun playing what I call theological badminton(*) in front of the kids; of course, all that happens is the kids get bored with Mommy and Daddy getting all technical again and would you both PLEASE be QUIET?!! We’re trying to watch a MOVIE.

    (*)Theological badminton happens when hubby says something good-naturedly snarky about religion and I actually respond. We’ll go back and forth for a few rounds usually before being told to cut it out.


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