This weekend we went to a lovely, lovely christening. As we arrived I realised it would be Eliza’s first time in a church when it was actually being used for a religious service (and not a Christmas tree festival or playgroup, as per previous experiences). How would this go? I wondered.
Thirty seconds later I found out.
- E: Why are these people here?
- Me: *whispering* People come to church because they’re religious…
- E: *loudly* Because they’re witches?
- Me: No, religious…that means…
- E: Do witches steal children?
- Me: NO! Why do you think that? Oh god…oh god, sorry! Probably shouldn’t say that here
- E: Say what?
- Me: Erm…
- E: Can I have a Babybel?
I hand one over in blessed relief.
Questions that followed shortly after included: Can I blow the candles out? (“I don’t think you should.”) Why not? (“It’s not your birthday”). Is that a boy or a girl? (“It’s a boy”) Why is he on a cross? (“…”)
So we are still in question everything mode – don’t think we’re going to get away from this one quickly, are we, parents? – and religion is clearly one of the big ones. It’s right up there with where babies come from (already dealt with that, thanks Florence) death (not looking forward to that, in many senses) and why you can’t have two ice lollies before your dinner.
But it’s not something I’d started to think we’d be talking about yet. I grew up going to Sunday School but swapped it for lie-ins as a teenager, so it’s something I know a lot about but isn’t really part of our lives now. But it’s something she’s bound to encounter more and more outside of the home.
I never want to fob her off with a ridiculous answer. But how do you explain tricky, complicated and abstract religious concepts to children when even adults struggle with them? Is it easier or less easy when you’re a believer or a non-believer yourself?
With hindsight we got away fairly easily on the question front at the christening, and I guess you have to take it on a question-by-question basis. Is there an app for this? Because there’s definitely no Miffy book, I’ve checked…