Lizzie, the 4th grader, starts her second foreign language this year. English is mandatory twice a week, and we had a choice between French and German for the second second-language. Come to think of it, the school chose German for us, but theoretically we had a choice. German lessons are in fact German lesson because they have it once a week for 45 minutes, and in the first lesson they did not learn a single word in German in the whole 45 minutes.
Catechism, called "Religia", as always is an optional class twice a week. My girls don't attend as we are not Catholic so they spend time in the day room or in the library with the couple other kids who don't attend. Ethics is theoretically on offer at our school, but even if you declare in June that you'd like your kid to attend Ethics, the school will not arrange it. If they do, it'll start in November, not September. It will probably be at 7:00 in the morning or after 4:00 in the afternoon. It may also take place in another school or may possibly be taught by a nun. True story.
From the whisperings in the hall at school, some parents are not happy with the catechism situation at school. My only interest in catechism in school is that my children don't go, so I offered no comment to the conversation. Often parents who don't send their kids to catechism are quite critical of the parents who do. I'm not. Ok, I'm a little critical but of the school not necessarily the parents. When the school principal and teachers said that we would not have swimming lessons this year claiming a lack of money or that Lizzie wouldn't have a locker until the budget came in, then I was critical. Well, Misiu was critical and counter-claimed that the money was there. It's just spent on things that the school thinks and apparently parents think are more important such as catechism twice a week. Speech therapy? Forget about it.
My children do not attend catechism not because I am a non-conformist, although I am. It's because I'm not a hypocrite. I know that some parents send their kids even when they themselves have stopped practicing that religion and even when one or both parents are non-believers. They're hypocrites. It is true, but I understand them just the same.
The cost of not being a hypocrite can be very high. Some people are not willing to pay the price so to speak or allow their children to pay it. The cost for my children is hour after hour, year after year spent in the day room at school. The cost for us and them is no extended family, no aunts and uncles, no grandparents, no birthday wishes, no weekend visits. The choice to not be hypocrites was ours, the decision to exclude us from the family was theirs. It's extremely difficult to make a decision to raise your children according to your beliefs when you know that may mean a childhood without grandparents, without family. We decided that we would not buckle under the pressure. I wouldn't change a thing, but at the same time I understand the folks who are not brave enough to try. I wish they'd join me though. Maybe it'd be a little bit easier for all of us.