Wednesday, 24 November 2010

May cause offence

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.


  1. that's too, too brilliant. Three is a perfect age for church, I think. I remember Trefusis Minor wailing at a solemn, quiet moment on Christmas day 'But Baby Jesus is DEAD' and bursting into tears. The Tiniest Trefusis is more worldly - at the altar rail she says, with all the volume control of a three year old, 'I want a milky button too - why can't I have a milky button, Father Kevin?'...
    It makes for terrific entertainment.x

  2. I taught church school for a while and was utterly amazed at the ideas the children came up with.

    In one class, we talked about peace and I asked them what peace as to them - they said things like "peace is my friend Sam" 'peace is chocolate chip cookies with my Mom" "peace is Trinity Church."

    It gives me hope for the future1

  3. That is so funny, and so true! Mercifully, my son isn't interested in Church because Scottish Presbyterianism is about as much fun as tertiary syphilis to be honest.

    Nothing to eat - unless you go to the church hall afterwards for tea and cake..... and conversion!

    Ali x

  4. Girls, there's a sequel. The Sunday immediately after I wrote this post, people were politely filing out of church and the Impster dashes off saying 'I've got to see the vicar!' So she barges past everyone to interrupt the conversation he's having and says 'Why do we drink Blood of Christ?' And he comes up with the brilliant answer, 'because it's Holy Communion', which funnily enough seemed to satisfy her perfectly.