I have a secret confession:
I love driving carpool.
This is a strange thing for me to admit, because I actually hate driving. Like a lot. I find it uncomfortable and stressful and a huge waste of time. Also, my car smells like cheese.
But I love the carpool because the kids forget that I’m there half the time and I get to listen in to their ridiculous conversations. Like this:
Kid 1: Your bathroom has a bad word in it.
Kid 2: No it doesn’t. What word?
Kid 1: Hot.
Kid 2: That’s not a bad word.
Kid 1: It is when it’s the love kind of hot.
Kid 2: It’s not the love kind of hot. It’s the water kind of hot.
Kid 1: That’s just what your parents told you so you wouldn’t freak out.
Kid 2: MOM!
I didn’t answer. I was too busy laughing hysterically.
This morning, we were driving a little boy who lives up the street. I love this kid. He has flaming red hair and delicate features and a somber, quiet, deliberate way of speaking. He gentles my car in the morning. This morning, he was trying to teach my son a blessing that he had learned in his Hebrew classes at the JCC after school.
Leo, unfortunately, was a poor Hebrew student.
We were driving along, and while passing through the Highland business district in Saint Paul, I saw a car nearly crush a mother and her daughter as they crossed the road.
“JESUS MOTHER CHRIST!” I yelled, and then rolled down the window to yell some more. (I did not, I’d like to point out, use profanity. Though I surely would have done if the kids were not in the car.)
The little redhaired boy was fascinated.
“Kelly,” he said. “Are you Jewish?”
“No, darling, I’m not. Why do you ask?”
“My mom says Jewish people get to say ‘Jesus’ when they’re mad. She says it’s a perk.”
“Well,” I said. “Sometimes people see it as more of a guideline than a rule. And sometimes lots of rules go out the window when you see a car trying to kill a lady and her kid.”
The redhaired boy thought about this and nodded.
Leo was interested in the JCC and Cordelia was talking about her project on President Lincoln and American slavery.
The redhaired boy perked up.
“We learned about slavery too,” he said.
“Really?” I said. “What did you learn?”
“Well, it’s an evil story,” he said taking evident delight. “Because the people had to carry REALLY HEAVY ROCKS on their backs up the sides of these humungous rock piles FOR NO REASON, and then Moses, when he got mad, would whip them just because.”
“You mean Pharaoh?”
“Right,” he said. “Pharaoh.”
“Oh, I know this story!” Leo yelled. “It has a pillar of fire!”
“There’s no pillar of fire, Leo,” the redhaired boy said. “Oh, wait. Yes there was. But it was later.”
“The pillar of fire is the best part,” Leo said.
“No, the best part is when Pharaoh sent plagues to Egypt. Like frogs. FROGS!”
“You mean Moses?”
“Right. Moses. And frogs. And then Harriet Tubman-”
“THAT’S THE WRONG STORY!” Cordelia yelled. She’s bossy about details. She’s a detail boss. “That was America, not Egypt!”
“Well,” the redhaired boy said thoughtfully, “slavery is bad no matter where it is. Even Antarctica.”
“That’s totally true,” I said.
“And then Moses….no, I mean Pharaoh. Actually, no, it was Moses. Wait…..which one got all his hair cut off?”
Bible literacy, ladies and gentlemen! There’s something for everyone!