“What bedtime book do you want to read tonight, Dora?”
“The Bible, Daddy!”
David forms a beautiful poker-face. “Sure!” he says. A flash-flood of love rushes my veins.
Dora climbs into her bed like a monkey. Then, thinking better of her approach, she scrambles back to the floor before somersaulting her way into bed. She settles next to David, plonking the Children’s Bible on his chest.
Dora and I attend church for two reasons; first, I like how I feel when church is over, which is somehow softer. I’m more inclined to do things like say a quick prayer for cyclists who wander out of the bike lane instead of thinking what I usually think at them. After church, sometimes I’ll even empty the dishwasher when it isn’t my turn.
The second reason is this: for ninety minutes, our daughter disappears into the Sunday School room where she paints and molds clay and plays dress up while some lovely teachers tell her Bible stories and clean up glitter. Our church only tells the nice-God stories about how love is hands-down the best thing ever and also, basically, don’t be dick to other people. Not even scofflaw cyclists.
David has many animated opinions about organized religion. His idea of church is the quiet house we leave to him on Sunday mornings. I am cool with that. He is cool with us going to church. Everyone is happy on Sunday mornings.
“So they blew their horns and the walls came tumbling down,” David reads, lacklusterly.
Then I hear him ask, “Hey, why are you putting your hands over your ears?”
“It’s so loud, Daddy. The horns are too loud!”
I am jealous of David’s laugh. He has an immediate, wide, uncomplicated laugh that is utterly devoid of worry.
“Silly girl!” He says, “The horns are pretend. They’re in the story.”
Dora laughs then, too, and soon they’re in full-on tickle fight.
I wonder whether I’ll end up telling this story to Dora’s future spouse (“She’s always had such a vivid imagination!”) or to some serious-looking child psychiatrist (“…and that was the first time I wondered whether she was hearing voices.”)
A memory to treasure or evidence to ponder? This is every parent’s perennial question.
“Don’t be ridiculous,” says David.