I picked Anna up from daycare and was driving home when I heard this from the backseat: “Mommy, what does Jesus do?”

I wasn’t exactly prepared for philosophical discussions with my three-and-a-half year old, so I said something to stall for time like, “Um.”

“And not the big Jesus,” she clarified. “The baby Jesus!”

I don’t like calling myself a christian. Religion in general gets my hackles up in more ways than I can count though I was raised Episcopalian and have, in fact, been sporadically attending Episcopal services during the past year or so with Anna. (I’ll go into more detail about why I’m taking her to church in a different post.) Also, the phrase, “It’s the Christian thing to do,” drives me absolutely bat-shit crazy, because of the blatant implication that christians have some sort of monopoly on good behavior. I consider myself to be far closer to an agnostic, though I still tend to be somewhat… spiritual I guess is the closest word. I find it hard to believe that there isn’t something more out there, though I also find it hard to believe that it’s some single entity keeping an eye on us.

But I had to answer her question, and so I decided to go with what I think the “core concept” of Jesus is.

“Baby Jesus loves everyone, Anna. That’s what he does. He goes all over and shows people how to love.”

“Oh. Everyone?”

“Yep. Everyone. The whole darn world.”

“What does the big Jesus do?”

“Er, the grown-up Jesus does the same thing. He helps people remember how to love everyone else and tries to get them to not fight.”

“Oh.” Silence. “Mommy?”

“Yes, Anna?” I said, my shoulders hunching in anticipation of more questions for which I was completely unprepared about the nature of divinity.

“What do giraffes eat?”

Oh, thank you, Jesus! I thought in relief. “Leaves, sweetie. And pink cookies.”