There are times when Mormonism is harmless, amusing, and it certainly does help some people. But there are other times when the environment is toxic and poisonous and so narrow that one cannot even squeak through without becoming flattened, one-dimensional, and without depth or passion.
I always hear the argument, “It’s the people, not the teachings” that create these situations. But it is the TEACHINGS that have created the PEOPLE, and the environment, and the arguments and rhetoric they spew, so how can it not all go back to the main source?
My children have long been friends with Mormon kids, because, well, we live in Utah, and just about everybody here has been touched in some shape or form by Mormonism. The majority ARE Mormon, and a good deal of them are very active and BELIEVING Mormons. And I have often blogged about it, sometimes with humor, often with sadness, and sometimes with anger. What, anger you say? Yep, I’m a mother, and my instincts are maternal and fierce and I don’t like people messing with my kids.
For me, I have reached a point where I find it all quite amusing and rarely negative. It took me a lot of time and a lot of experience to get here to this solid, comfortable place where I rarely engage in negative feelings about my birth religion. My parents, as you all know, are breathe-eat-sleep-walk-Mormons and guess what? They believe it and they LIVE it.
And you have to respect that, even if from afar, with a slightly glazed look on your face as you contemplate just exactly what that belief system is
I’ve learned to accept it, slight glaze and all.
But there are times when it is not innocuous and innocent. Those times are times when my daughter is destroyed because her best friend admits to her that her parents think Chatter Child is a “bad influence.” Because she is not Mormon. Their child has done many things with boys that MY child has not even thought about. Their child sneaks out of the house regularly, something my child has never felt the need to do. Their child is impulsive and headstrong, and at least once a week MY child is stopping her from stupid impulsive behavior. If anyone is a bad influence, it is THEIR CHILD.
But MY CHILD is not Mormon. And thus, they have written her off.
How sad for them. For if they took a moment to get to know MY CHILD, they would discover that:
1. She is passionate, loving, and ardent, particularly when it comes to defending people. If I were in a dark alley surrounded by thugs, I would want MY CHILD in my corner. Not that I would want her in any dark alley, or near any thugs. What the heck would she be doing there? What the heck would I be doing there? But you get the picture.
2. She is random and rejoices in it. She likes Elmo, Disney movies and paraphernalia and animated cartoons. Sometimes she is so mature it scares me, and then she curls up in her Mater blanket and I see the child that is still there, the one I gave birth to 15 years ago.
3. She is anti-drug and anti-drinking, and has become the voice of reason for so many of her young Mormon friends who are rebelling against a strict culture.
4. She is old enough to look at me with disgust because I am just SO dorky, and the next second she is calling me Mommy and asking me to make her tomato soup and a grilled cheese sandwich. Comfort food.
5. When you have a conversation with her, it actually makes sense, and she only uses “like” a few times.
6. She knows all the words to the opening song from Beauty and the Beast.
7. She tells her 13-year-old sister that Miley Cyrus/Hannah Montana is SO over, and then secretly watches all the episodes when she won’t get caught.
8. She’s gullible. If that stupid boy tells her he has cancer ONE MORE TIME, I’m going to have to go over and straighten him out. (No, he does not have cancer.)
9. She likes the scars on her legs. She figures she has earned them.
10. She has chosen to embrace her naturally curly hair, and only straightens it every once in a while. She also managed to convince her cousin who has even CURLIER hair that naturally curly hair is cool.
These are just a few of the things that her best friend’s parents will not know, because they have pegged her as bad. Because she isn’t Mormon. And this, friends, is when the Mormon environment becomes toxic. It’s been an eye-opener for my parents, because they do not believe this side of Mormonism exists, but they are seeing it now. They know it’s real. And they want to change it.
And who knows, maybe that is all it will take. Baby steps.