Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The ultimate pre-school field trip

IN ONE of life's more ironic twists, this trip to the Holy Land has come up just as we're supposed to be applying for schools for Louis. "Ironic" because the only good ones near us are massively oversubscribed Church of England schools, and our agnostic son stands precisely no chance of getting a place. Somehow the christening never happened, and as for Sunday church attendance: well, it felt wrong given the motivation would have been for the wrong sort of educational reasons.

Yet here we are in the birthplace of two of the world's three biggest religions, living in a city that Muslims consider their third holiest. Just getting through a day here requires a religious sensitivity that is completely absent from life in London, even, I'd warrant, for the majority of parents whose kids attend some sort of faith-based school. And a simple sight-seeing trip, to the Wall, for example, has me in knots trying to explain what it all means to a three year old when even I'm not that sure. Heck, (and I just had to delete "Hell") I'm even rusty about my Old Testament stories; hardly surprising when all I can dredge up from the recesses of my mind is one junior school production of Joseph.

But Louis will go home knowing more about the big three than most children pitching up at one of the CofE schools that turn him down. Our impromptu trip to the Garden Tomb on Saturday (our trip east in search of bustle to escape the Yom Kippur shutdown had us seeking serenity pretty darn fast and this was the nearest to a park our particular bit of East Jerusalem had to offer) means he can already weigh in on the controversy surrounding Jesus's resurrection. (The controversial bit being where he actually temporarily lay, for fellow heathens like me.) Give me a couple more days and we'll have Calvary ticked off as well - that' s provided I can tear us both away from the water slide at the local swimming pool.

Where, I'd like to know, is the bit on the schools' application form marked "field trip"? Doesn't three months immersion in the Holy Land trump a couple of half-hearted Sunday morning church services? I'm guessing not......

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