Last week, each afternoon I picked Sidney up from preschool, she climbed into her car seat and exclaimed: “Ay! Santa Maria!” (Nobody believes me, but I swear she even did so with a soupçon of Spanish.)
At first I was sure I was mishearing her.
I wasn’t. “Ay! Santa Maria!” All. Week. Long.
Now, I know that Riverdale Temple is Jew-ish. Last December I was just fine with Jingle Bells and a Kwanza song about a candle at the “Winter Party.” Still, I wasn’t sure how I felt about Santa Maria coming home. At first I thought it had something to do with NYC’s Universal Pre-K program. In exchange for subsidized pre-K, there are restrictions on when religion can be taught — basically only after the UPK session is finished. But this made no sense, if nothing Jewish could happen until the afternoon, how did Santa Maria sneak in? And isn’t she something of a religious entity?
I obviously wasn’t bothered enough to to ask anyone other than a three year old, but I kept asking Sidney until I got a response other than: “Ay! Santa Maria!”
Finally, on Wednesday I got an answer.
Me: Sid, who is Santa Maria?
Sid: It’s not a who, it’s a thing.
Me: I see. Can you tell me more about this thing? Is it a picture of a woman holding her dying son? Is it a triptych depicting the remarkable life of a woman and her child, complete with gold leaf? (Ok, I’m getting carried away. But this was where my mind went: Had they taken a field trip to the Cloisters? It’s not where I would take a class of three and four year olds, but I’m game…)
Sid: It’s funny that you don’t know this, but Columbus sailed to New York on the Nina, the PITA, and the Santa Maria. Ay! Santa Maria! (She will not stand corrected on that second ship.)
And there you have it. Riverdale Temple and my almost-four year old totally schooled me.


Posted in children, New York City, school on Oct 13, 2014