Last week a friend was visiting and I overheard Frieda asking her in the next room: 'Who's God?'
My friend nervously called out, 'Is this a real question?'
'Yup.' I answered.
'Um ... would you like me to answer it?'
'Yup.' I sniggered.
Then, although I was deeply curious, I busied myself with Stella, leaving my friend to answer without the added discomfort of my listening in.
So yes, this is the first time my 4 and a half yr old has asked this question.
And here I've been preparing myself for some other Big Talks. Like how exactly the Daddy's sperm gets into the Mummy's egg (she's got the drift of that part and what happens from there, in fact live births are a regular occurrence in her school playground apparently).
Or the most intimidating talk of them all - why we shouldn't blindly trust strangers. Sadly for my open and friendly little girl this one needs to happen real soon.
But ja, the god question - I wasn't quite ready for that one. I recently realised that I've learnt more about myself during the last 4 and a bit years of parenting than in all the years prior to that. And I'm not talking about the actual parenting lessons, just the fact that when living with two little mirrors one is forced to examine one's own motives, opinions, actions etc that much more closely.
Parenting has brought out the best (empathy, pathos, generosity) and the worst (bias, selfishness, intolerance) in me, and now it's forcing me to form an actual position on the Big Stuff too.
Our plan has always been to allow our children to find their own religious belief when they're ready to. But one can only do that from an informed position and obviously they're going to want to know what their parents believe as a starting point. Has anyone brought out The God Delusion as a picture book yet?
Also, I'm glad Frieda first asked that question of a family friend, in our house. I'm pleased that the question wasn't asked in a less sympathetic and secure environment. I feel badly that it so easily could have been, that's not really fair on her.
So here I go, girding my loins to have a Chat, to check if the answer she received satisfied her curiosity, if she has any more questions. For now.
Wow this parenting malarkey just gets more and more interesting doesn't it?
Update: after writing this post I bit the bullet and one afternoon, lounging on my bed with Frieda, I asked her what my friend's answer had been and whether she was satisfied with the answer.
It seems my friend had equated God with that little voice you hear in your head when you know you're doing something wrong. Not a bad answer for now.
I told Frieda that some people called that little voice God, others called it your conscious etc.
Frieda looked at me, leaned over and tugged on my hair. Hard.
'Ow' I shouted, 'what was that for?!'
'There it is,' she answered, 'that little voice.'