Sunday, 15 November 2009

How to tell kids there's no heaven - you just rot

Ed: Brave words from an atheist mum, but when you read to the end, you realize she fudges it.

They've asked me what happens when you die before, of course - just like they've asked where babies come from, and which is, ultimately, best: Madonna, or Lady GaGa?

But the thing with those Big, Difficult Conversations that you dread, is that you never have them just the one time. If I've told them about what happens when a mummy and a daddy love each other very much once, I've told them a hundred times. They just keep forgetting. And so, to be fair, do I. Last time we went through "How do babies get in the tummy?" I did all the blah bah blah "Daddy's seed" bit.

"And how does Daddy's seed get in your tummy?" Eavie ask.

"Through Daddy's willy," Dora replied, briskly. "It gets big."

"Oh." I said, momentarily nonplussed. "Oh. And who told you that?"

"You did, Mummy," Dora said. "Last time."

"Oh," I said. "I must have been feeling very chatty that day. Oh."

So yes. We've talked about death before - not that they or I remember it, obviously, but I'm pretty sure I ladled on the "going to heaven" thing quite strongly. I think I've always done the "heaven" thing - albeit, given my otherwise-strident aethism, a mealy-mouthed caveat of "Some people believe ...." at the start. I JUST DIDN'T WANT TO TELL THEM THEY ROT, OK? They always ask just before bedtime, and it's enough faff as it is, what with teeth-cleaning, and finding Eavie's "Chicken" doll (it's a duck - don't ask), and Dora often just lobbing in a querelous, "I feel like I might be scared, later, and not able to sleep," just at the point I've started to really visualise putting on America's Next Top Model, and eating an orange. You don't want to chuck in rotting then. That's delaying bedtime by at least an hour. No, no - just waffle about heaven a bit, and then get back down to the telly. Read more
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