Monday, 5 October 2009

The question no sort-of Roman Catholic wants to hear from their child...

Forget that talk about the birds and bees. Been there, done that, it's a walk in the park compared to this little doozy.

"Mummy. Who made us?"

For chrissake. What kind of a question is that to throw at your mother when you're only 10 minutes into a 2 1/2 hour car journey?

It's funny, but it's entirely possible for a grown adult to blindly just bumble along, affiliated with one belief or another, not really speaking out about anything that they don't agree with because, well, they did that whole thing when they were very much younger and after a significant investigation process of alternative systems, decided to stick with what they knew. Until they have children. And suddenly the sort of prayers and creeds that a person may be happy to blindly recite every Sunday without actually listening to any of the words (or is that just me?) are suddenly put in the glare of the spotlight and found wanting when you realise you are supposed to pass this belief structure onto your 6 year old child....

Initally though, being Roman Catholic, when asked the question above, I couldn't help myself. Generations of conditioning kicked in and quick as a flash all those catechism classes that - wait for it - I never actually went to (because I didn't grow up in the Dark Ages) came back from the far distant past and took control. Without even thinking about it I replied "God made us." And then I nearly crashed car. What on earth was I saying? Because whilst I do believe that some higher being certainly had a hand in his creation, I would also like equal billing - if not top billing - to be given to Boy #1's father and myself.

So I back-tracked somewhat, and threw in a brief reference or two to myself and Husband being involved in making him, too. When that proved not to answer his real question of how human beings came to be in the first place, we then moved on to a brief discussion of Darwin's theory of evolution. I also suggested that God was probably standing around passing Mother Nature the odd test tube and keeping the temperature of the laboratory at optimimum for successful development whilst she beavered away in the 'Human Project.'

Overall I think I was about as clear as mud. I know this because Boy #1 has decided that unlike the rest of us he is not most probably descended from a species of ape. He is, of course, the ultimate progeny of some highly evolved lion.

You might think that was enough for one car journey - but there was no way I was going to get off that lightly. As Boy #2 slept in his car seat, Boy #1 and I discussed the fact that different people believe different things about God, and sometimes in different gods entirely, and sometimes not in any god at all, and that none of these beliefs are any better or worse than each other, they are just different.

He then decided to lighten the mood a little and moved onto the signposts in cemetaries (headstones, to you and I), whether it was necessary to have a license to be a grave digger or could anyone just go in with a spade, and what the police would do to you if you did (I believe Boy #1's recieved wisdom on this one was that beheading would be the probable outcome).

Then, just to round things off nicely, we touched on burial vs cremation and the fact that of course it doesn't really matter to the person who's died what happens to their body because it is, after all, just a body once their spirit is no longer present, and...

...crikey, this child-rearing game can be hard work.

I'm off now to google 'antidisestablishmentarianism', the roots of Marxism, and to bone up on the great schism of the Roman and Orthodox churches in 1054AD.

We've got another long car journey coming up soon, and me and Baden Powell? We like to be prepared...


  1. Blimey - I rattled off the same answer and I never had catechism either. It's funny in this house because even though I don't really believe in much, one child is taking her/himself off to church every Sunday and another is insisting that the evolutionary theory might not be that reliable!

  2. Oh crikey - yep we get this sort of thing all the time (serves me right for sending eldest child to a catholic school). The other day I asked her who she loved the most in the whole world (out of earshot of 'Papa' and little sister) because I just wanted, for a moment to hear my name. 'I love you Mummy, most in the whole world, but I probably love God even more'. Oh for crying out loud...

  3. There's nothing like a captive parent in a car on a long journey for sparking those fascinating questions on life and everything. If you remember The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy you will remember that the answer is 42! Justifying it could be interesting . . .

    On the other hand don't you just love being asked something, then, having given a well considered and age-appropriate answer, have it dismissed with total contempt by the perceived wisdom of a small child?

  4. It was your perfect opportunity to not have muddied the waters with God. Sometimes it's okay to say that you don't know, because we don't know, do we? Please don't let him believe in that gray haired old man that sits on a throne in the heavens deciding our fate for us. It would be such a shame.

  5. EPM, scary times, I agree!

    MT, did you manage to keep a straight face?

    Sharon - so it's not just Boy #1 that does that then?

    Irene, we're going to have to agree to disagree on this one, I'm afraid. But then variety is the spice of life!

  6. Aren't children great? We used to wonder what would happen to all the wisdom we imparted on our inquisitive children. Now we know, nothing!

  7. Sigh. These car journeys can be so tiring.

    I did the "same say" yet "others say" etc answer. And the biological one, of course.

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  9. God I love the stage we are at at the moment. Elliott's new obsessions are watches and how to make chips. That'll do for hopefully a long time!

    PS messed up my previous comment so ignore the one that says I deleted my own comment...

  10. I was brought up Roman Catholic, so I'm surprised that when my 6 year old asked me who made us, it did not cross my mind to say God did. I obviously just panicked and thought, oh no, she's asking about sex. As she goes to Catholic school, if I'd asked her who SHE thought had made us she would probably have given me the same answer as you. Strike me down!

  11. Congratulations, Lesson 1 in the 'Lost Art of Parental Fudging' module, passed with flying colours.

    Wait until they ask you, 'Ok, so what does the bad man actually want to do with me once he has taken me away?'...

    do you lie or tell the truth??!

  12. It's your blog and your child, PM, sorry if I was out of line.

  13. R&C - you couldn't possibly mean that I was talking nonsense...?(!)

    Mwa, funnily enough the biological answer was no problem for me, I could handle that. It was the god one that freaked me out!

    PHM, can you send him over here to tell me how to make chips? (other than the frozen kind, obviously!)

    RS, if we hadn't had the sex conversation previously I would have done the same - but no luck, he knows that one (and has no doubt forgotten all about it) already!

    Pig, on that one, you lie. Or I did, anyway... am I a bad parent or just trying to be a good one? Discuss.

    Irene, you most certainly weren't, I'm sure you only stated what others thought. Don't worry about it.

  14. The 'Lost Art of Parental Fudging' - ha! (It might not be all that lost.)

    I left a comment, but it got lost. Speaking of lost.

    I was worried about the beheading and thinking that Britain must have changed rather in the 3 years I've been away. I don't remember it being that hard-line on crime.

  15. Oh Iota, things have changed here...


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