Return of the Prodigal Son by Pompeo Batoni - 1773

Evolution for the Catholic Student

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Sunday, October 21, 2012

The Junior Republican

The Junior Republican

          My six-year-old son has acquired an interesting nickname in the office of his elementary school.  Apparently he’s known as the “Junior Republican,” which is pretty funny because he doesn’t even know what the heck a Republican is.
          How he earned that nickname is another funny story, if not also disturbing.  My son has a medical condition that requires him to take medication when he eats, so at lunchtime, he goes to the school health room to take his medication.  It seems some people at the school were concerned because he hadn’t been eating much of the lunch my wife was packing him each day.
          So one particular day, when he was in the health room and not eating much, the health assistant told him to eat, and when he didn’t, she said, “President Obama would want you to eat your lunch.”
          My son responded, “President Obama is on the naughty list.”
          “No,” argued (with a first-grader) the aide, “He’s good.”
          “Rick Santorum and Mitt Romney are the good Presidents,” my son said, “President Obama is the naughty President.”
          Now I’ll admit he didn’t have his civics quite correct, but he got closer than she did.
          I don’t want to make a big deal out of the issue, but it seems very strange to me that when my son wouldn’t eat, the first instinct of this school official was to appeal to President Obama.
          I was in first grade in the early 1980s and I don’t think anyone would have encouraged me to do anything “because President Reagan would want me to.”
          I’m the child’s father and I would like him to eat his lunch.  That’s a pretty good reason.  Or how about appealing to my son’s teacher, whom he adores?  No, we only know the child and participate in his life on a daily basis.  Our relationship to him isn’t all that important.  But, if President Obama wants someone to do something, we should be honored to do it.  (You listening, Catholic bishops?  This is what the President has been trying to tell you.)
          I’m not going to make a big deal out of the incident.  I think they were embarrassed about it when it was mentioned to my wife.  Hopefully it will be moot after November 6 anyway.  But it is an odd commentary on our public schools, if not our culture, that the natural first inclination is to ask children to do something, “because President Obama wants you to.”
          We’ll be homeschooling our son again after this year.  (That was already our plan; it’s not due to this incident, although it would definitely have moved us in that direction regardless.)  I think I will keep teaching him to be virtuous, and to do so because Jesus wants him to.  We’ll let the public institutions do the fretting about what Mr. Obama wants.