Friday, 9 April 2010

Virgins, Eggs and Resurrections.

The car has once again, whilst I’m driving and attempting to keep my mind focussed on the road, been the venue for deep philosophical discussion.
As I drive, my youngest children who innately know that I am a captive audience, ask me all sorts of questions that generally speaking have me floundering and, because I’m in the driver’s seat, I cannot escape, cannot lie, cannot wriggle out of it. My expression is scrutinized by my eight year old who sits next to me on the way home from school.
At Christmas, she wanted to know about the virgin birth, on Valentine’s day she wanted the definitive answer on what is love, on mother’s day she asked me how I was coping without my mummy because I was her mummy and she didn’t want me to die. It is all very profound stuff and I often struggle for an answer deep enough yet appropriate for a girl of only eight who is evidently growing up and in need of some answers to life’s oft questioned puzzles.
“I want the truth mummy” she says gravely, as though the thought has just dawned on her that I’ve been lying to her for years.
“About what?” I ask, my foot automatically searching for the clutch, my hand reaching for the gear stick in preparation to slow down so that I can concentrate.
“Well, you know when it was Valentine’s day and you and dad got all snoggy and gave each other cards?”
“Yes”, I said, hesitantly. “We’ve already discussed this subject”. At length.
“I know, but I don’t understand why, by the end of the day, you were shouting at each other and saying rude words. How can that be love? How do you know that you love someone enough that you want to marry them?”
A school bus carrying scores of gesticulating teenagers overtook me.
“Well”, I began, “When you fall in love at the start it is all very exciting and wonderful and you can’t eat much and all you think about is the other person. Eventually, after courting for a while..”
“What’s courting?”
“Huh? You know, when you go out with someone, like your brother and his girlfriend”.
“Oh dating”, she said. Those American shows have a lot to answer for.
“Yes darling, dating. Anyway after a while it becomes apparent that even after a few rows and being able to tolerate one another’s annoying habits, that perhaps this is ‘the one’ and you get engaged, save some money, then get married and hope for the best”.
“Some people have babies first”.
“Yes, they do”. When the hell would we get home? I was stuck in a line of traffic behind a tractor.
“Well how do they manage that then?”
“Like the frogs in our pond silly”, interrupted the Red-Head from the back seat, “It’s to do with tadpoles and eggs”. My eight year old cocked her head to one side and looked at me quizzically. I shrugged my shoulders.
“That still doesn’t answer why you and dad were cross with each other when you are supposed to love each other”.
“Well that’s simple. Sometimes when you are stroppy and rude or have made yet another mess in the playroom, I am quite cross with you. It doesn’t mean I don’t love you though. And if you remember I had been up all the night before Valentine ’s Day because that one”, I said, nodding my head behind me to indicate her sister, “had been sick all night. Mums and dads get very grouchy when they are tired”. This seemed a sufficient explanation. She was quiet for a quarter of a mile.
“The year is going by very fast. Christmas, my birthday, blah, blah. Now it’s Easter”.
“Yes darling, two weeks rest. No getting up early, no packed lunches to make. Lovely”.
“I don’t get Easter”, she added, flatly.
“What is there not to get?” And why, oh why, did I ask such a leading question?
“Chocolate eggs? Delivered by a rabbit? That’s just silly”. I’d never given that one much thought before, “And why is it called Good Friday then? There is nothing very good about Jesus being crucified”. The lights were on red. This journey was interminable.
“Yes mummy, why is it good that Jesus died?” asked the Red-Head, troubled. They go to a Church of England school. Hadn’t they covered this in assembly?
“Well I suppose because it was extremely good of Jesus to die for our sins”.
“But I wasn’t born” added the eight year old insulted, “I hadn’t sinned.” Good grief.
“His sacrifice carries on sweetie, besides maybe a long time ago it was God Friday”. I indicated right at the pedestrian crossing, nearly home.
“Hmm”, she was unconvinced. Finally I pulled the handbrake on outside the house just as the Red-Head asked,
“How did Jesus come alive again mummy? It’s not fair. Lots of people loved Jesus but lots of people love other people. You loved your mummy. But she’s dead forever isn’t she?” Five year olds have an exceptional capacity for flooring adults and my throat constricted.
“Yes darling she is dead forever”.
“So was Jesus a Christian Zombie?” asked the elder one. It was such an appalling and preposterous image that I laughed out loud. The change in mood was welcome.
“No”, I said smiling and gathering coats, book-bags and lunchboxes, “Jesus wasn’t a zombie. Christians believe that He came back to life to show love and life everlasting.” It’s a difficult concept to grasp.
“But does that mean that our life will last forever?” asked the Red-Head jumping up the steps.
“Sort of. I think it means if you have faith in Jesus, when you die, you will be with God forever”.
“I like that” said her sister as we walked in the door, “It gives me comfort to think that your mother is with God being looked after”. Me too, darling, me too.

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