Wednesday, 24 November 2010
It is bath time. I am kneeling devoutly by the side of the bath, engaged in the ritual practice of extracting the Boo’s fingers from the tap. Suddenly the Impster pops up holding her watering can and sponge. ‘Blood of Christ?’ she asks proffering the watering can.
‘I’m playin’ churches,’ she explains. Then picking up the sponge, she hollers loud enough to shame a barrow-boy, ‘Anyone want some body of Christ?’
The Boo looks suitably impressed and flaps his arms as if to say, ‘Don’t mind if I do.’
It started one evening way past her bedtime. K told her she could choose ‘just one’ book for her bedtime story. So she chose the fattest one she could find: The Bible. They embarked on Genesis and she pointed to the picture of Noah on the opposite page: ‘Look daddy, it’s the Fat Controller.’ It was clear that we had a little explaining to do.
Or at least someone did. The following week she started Sunday School and came home full of it: ‘I thought it was horrid. I wanted to draw pictures of wicked witches.’
Perhaps it was the post-Sunday School chocolate digestives that eased the way, or possibly her recent discovery that Holy Communion contained edible goods: ‘Daddy, did you get something to eat?’
Six months later, she has started spreading the word. ‘I like Church,’ she said trudging along the other Sunday. ‘I wonder if granny knows about Church?’ And lo and behold as we are taking our leave of my parents she says, ‘I’ll watch out for you granny, and God will watch out for me. God is at Church.’
No evangelist, however good, can match the charming yet obsessional fervour of a three year old. How otherwise could Disney and Barbie continue to practise their strangulating hold on families the world over? Yes, children spend their days greedily consuming everything they see and hear, only to throw it back up when you are least expecting it. Like my friend’s four-year-old niece, who sent shockwaves across her family last Christmas by yelling ‘let’s open the fucking presents!’
Childish enthusiasm knows no abstention, no tact, no diplomacy. It is boundless, heartfelt and unbearably honest. Just don’t ask for an opinion on your haircut.