why Jesus is NSFPS (not suitable for preschool)

Four-year-olds like to ask a lot of questions.

My four-year-old likes to ask a lot of questions about Jesus.

In this blessed season of Advent, Maggie is suddenly obsessed with Our Savior and everything about Him. I took her to see the Radio City Christmas Spectacular: Rockettes: Magical Journey on Sunday morning at 9 a.m. (yes, all those poor ladies are up and tap dancing at that hour), and after an hour and half of fantasmical Christmas celebration, when the lights came up, the first thing Maggie said was:

“Mom. I’m pretty sure that was the real Santa. But was that the real Jesus?”

“Uh, no, definitely not,” I said. (I mean, our seats weren’t that good, so who can say. But five shows a day is a lot to ask of any infant, even the Christ Child.)

“Oh, it was a different baby,” she said, nodding. “But… was that the real Mary?”

Preschoolers have a tenuous grasp on the notions of History and Time. Maggie knows we’re about to celebrate the birthday of Baby Jesus, but then he’s also a grownup, and he’s also dead, and he’s also God, whatever that means, and she’s short-circuiting a little bit, but she’s still trying to get to the bottom of this whole Jesus thing. Unfortunately, the more questions she asks, the more I realize there’s a lot about the Jesus story that is NSFPS (not suitable for preschool).

Here were a few of yesterday’s questions:

MAGGIE: Why did the bad guys kill Jesus?

ME: Because Jesus was telling people to be nice, and they didn’t like that.

MAGGIE: But why didn’t the police stop the bad guys?

ME: Because the police and the bad guys were sort of the same people. But today, of course, policemen are your friends! Not bad guys!

MAGGIE: How did the bad guys kill Jesus?

ME: Um. I don’t remember.

MAGGIE: No. I mean what did they USE to kill Jesus?

ME: I’ll have to get back to you on that.

A few minutes later:

MAGGIE: Mommy. I think those bad guys used a CROSS to kill Jesus? Right? And it looks like this and it’s big? Did they hit Jesus on the head?

So then I get into the details of the crucifixion, against my better judgment, because  I don’t see another way out. After a few minutes of that:

MAGGIE: But Mommy. How did the police get the nails in between all of Jesus’s toes? Did they have little tiny hammers?

From there, we got into an interesting conversation about how one can slowly bleed to death, and whether 33 was an “old” or “medium old” age to die, and then circled back to:

MAGGIE: But Mommy. When Jesus was borned in the stable. Where was the Christmas tree?

I’m trying to stick with the Tiny Baby Jesus part of things, if possible.  To quote Will Ferrell in Talladega Nights: I like the Christmas Jesus best. Eight-pound, six-ounce, newborn infant Jesus.

But with a preschooler/investigative reporter in the home, it hasn’t been easy.


{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

Shari Brooks December 7, 2011 at 2:49 pm

so funny.  But, amazing that Maggie is so interested too, right?  Good thing she didn’t get as far as, “And, Jesus is a Jew too, right.”


Anonymous December 13, 2011 at 6:04 pm

Well since she doesn’t know what “Jewish” means– or “Catholic,” for that matter– I’m off the hook for a little longer there…


I am a daddy at home December 7, 2011 at 3:18 pm

funny story i smiled all the way to the end. my daughter is now learning to speak- now i know what’s coming 🙂


Msenula December 7, 2011 at 3:39 pm

Great story, entertaining. I say this but have a similar scenario playing at my house as well. When you are the adult with the supposed answer, it gets tricky. This year it’s all about Santa. Are the ones at the stores real, how can he really get to every kid in one night, are you and dad Santa, since the real one must be old???? On and on, with no real great answers… Just the kind that lead to more questions. In many ways I’m glad they are so inquisitive, just wish I could think off the cuff quicker than the inquiries!
Happy Holidays!
When Christmas eve and day arrive, the questions will stop only to resume next year.


Anonymous December 13, 2011 at 6:06 pm

Well, Santa can do magic, right? That’s my go-to answer on that one. Maggie recently asked me if Santa had that beard when he was a baby.


Amykover December 13, 2011 at 6:15 pm

Hey! Here is how I handle it. The ones at the store are fake, but the real Santa is incredibly real. I will live that lie to the day I die. Seriously. Check it out: http://tinyurl.com/dontmesswithsanta


Melanie December 7, 2011 at 6:55 pm

After reading to my three and five year olds  in the Bible about the Angel Gabriel appearing to Mary,  totally dreading “what’s a Virgin?”.  Just mumbled over that part, hope that works for a while.  


molliesy03 December 9, 2011 at 1:39 am

I remember discussing the crucifixion with Connor at a similar age. He’d been reading some kids’ book that purported to tell “the story of Easter,” but when it got to the crucifixion it showed Golgotha waaay in the background, in silhouette, with people crying and looking sad in the foreground. That just left him with more questions: “But HOW did the cross make him dead?”


Anonymous December 13, 2011 at 6:05 pm

You have to admit using it as a bludgeon would have been more time-efficient.


Amykover December 13, 2011 at 2:29 am

Ack!!! Makes you realize how gory these Biblical stories really are. Also, how do you gloss over the  immaculate conception thing? I was struggling with that one yesterday.


Anonymous December 13, 2011 at 6:05 pm

Hoo, boy. I have no idea. 


Tammy Lucas December 15, 2011 at 4:56 pm

Right there with you! My 3 yr old son knows just enough to be confused. He knows that usually people are old before they die (sometimes involving a cane, like my great-aunt). So he told me that after Jesus used a cane for a while, he died. So I (what was I thinking) said “Actually, Jesus was not that old. Do you know that Mommy and Daddy are older than Jesus ever got to be?” oops. You know what’s next : “Are YOU GOING TO DIE?!”


Christi December 21, 2011 at 1:04 am

My 5 yr old daughter is very curious about Jesus too, and keeps asking a million questions about Jesus and the nativity set we have, like “So Mary is Jesus’ mommy?”  “God is Jesus’ daddy?” “He was born outside with animals?”  etc etc etc… So we let her watch the DVD “The Little Drummer Boy” last night – you know the one from the 70s, that I vaguely remember watching, and liking because I like the song.  Until my husband suddenly announced “OMGosh, they just k-i-l-l-e-d his parents!”  A look of horror on both our faces, we quickly and thankfully realized she wasn’t really phased by it (should we be scared??)  As soon as the the credits started rolling she said “Soooo… is Joseph God?” My husband got wide eyes and said “Yeah, you field that one Mommy” LOL  We told her that God is  Jesus’ father, but Joseph adopted Jesus.  She said “Ohhhhhh, I’ve been wondering about that.” 


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