Sex, death and religion

There’s been general talk of death on and off at our place for a while now.  Don’t get me wrong – things are quite upbeat around here – but over a year ago, Mr.4 spotted a very dead, gruesome-looking possum on someone’s front nature strip.  And since then, he’s raised the question of things dying (people, animals, plants) from time to time.

Up until now, the discussion’s been pretty brief: “that <person/animal/flower> is dead now.  They died.”  “..that’s sad.  I don’t want to die.”  “I don’t want you to die Mummy.”

All fairly easy to give simple responses to:  “Yes.”  “It is sad.”  “I know..but you don’t need to worry, that’s a long long time away..”

A few days ago however, the topic became a little more complex – with Mr.4 deciding to branch out into religion.

The other night, I was reading Mr.4 a book about Edward.  Edward is one of thousands upon thousands of fictional Thomas the Tank Engine characters – though granted, Edward is one of the originals.  In the story, it describes how Edward’s an old train:  clanks a lot, needs to go to the Works to be fixed, etc.

Mr.4 interrupted my reading.  “Edward’s old.  Like you Mummy.”  (Obviously I must remind him of Edward.  I do need to go the Works actually.  It’s called a Day Spa.)

It wasn’t the first time I’ve been called old by Mr.4 – so no biggie.  “Yeah, he’s old…just like me.”

“And when you get old, then you die”, replies Mr.4.

“Well, usually when you are very old…and I’m not very old at all, James.” (Ageing, death..  let’s get back to the book already!)

Mr.4 then says, very matter-of-factly, “But when you do die, you go to GOD.” 

(Okaaay.)  “Ummm, yes that’s right.  Who taught you that?” (Not us.)

“I learnt it at childcare.”

“Oh, you did?  Ok.” (since when were they teaching religion at childcare?)

Mr.4 continued.  “I haven’t seen God.  Why can’t I see God?  Is it a man, or a lady?”

(Long pause)  “Well..I don’t know if it’s a man or a lady.  You can’t see God…but God watches over everyone and is very kind..and helps you do the right thing sometimes.” 

(Something like that…apparently.  Um, what did I just tell my kid?)

Fortunately, Mr.4 seemed to be satisfied with that answer, so we continued to read Edward. 

Thank, er..God!

Now I wouldn’t call myself an atheist, but I’m not entirely sure what I believe in either.  We both want our kids to be free to choose for themselves what they believe in down the track.  Just as I don’t appreciate religious views being pushed upon me, I don’t want to force a particular view onto my kids, either.

But while they’re growing up, they turn to you of course for answers.  And you don’t want to deny them information about anything – various religions included, should the conversation arise.  I get the feeling though that from now on, explaining controversial topics like death and religion is only going to get more tricky.  Which isn’t helped by the fact I haven’t formed a firm opinion for myself yet. 

It must have been a thoughtful week for Mr.4, as he was at me again with more questions the following day.

Onto sex.

The next morning, driving along in the car, Mr.4 decides sex should be the topic of the day.  To date, Mr.4 has only really known babies have grown in my ‘tummy’, that he and Mr.1 ‘popped out’…and voila!  Easy peasy Japanesy!

Occasionally Mr.4 requests another sibling.  That morning, he must have been feeling particularly affectionate towards his younger brother because he started laying on the pressure big time.

“I WANT ANOTHER BABY” he says, out of the blue.

“Oh!  Hmmmm..you do, do you?  Are you sure about that?”

“Yep.  I need another baby.  I want one brother and one sister.  I want a girl.”

“Well, it’s not that easy James, I’m afraid…I can’t just pop one out.  It takes time.”  (Well the first bit’s easy…but not the 9 months following, and the 20 years after that..)

“Awwwhhhh!” big long whine from Mr.4, using the same tone as if I’d just denied him an icecream.

“I don’t know.  We’ll see…maybe one day.” (No no no.  NO.)

Mr.4 keeps at me.  “You had two seeds in you.  And now you just need another one!”

(Huh?  Seeds?)  “Did you say seeds?”  We were on our way to buy plants, and I thought he may have moved on to talking about plant seeds…

“Yes – you had one seed that grew into me, and one that grew into Ryan.  And now you just need another one for a GIRL baby.”

“Where’d you learn about seeds, James?”

“Daddy.” (figures.)

“So Daddy told you about seeds being inside me?”

“Yep.  Daddy put two seeds in you – one me, one Ryan – and then we grew.”

“Well yes that’s right, he did.” (and there may still be a lot of seeds about, but let it be known, no more shall be sprouting inside me.)

And then, the question I didn’t expect him to think to ask, not yet. 

“How did Daddy get the seeds in your tummy?”

Then, at that moment, we arrived at garden centre.  Spared – till the next round!

Parents with older kids, I am keen to know: how do you answer questions your kids ask, when you’re not that certain of the answer yourself? 

I blog-hopped this post today over at Lori’s place as part of FlogYoBlog Friday… check out lots of awesome posts over there today!

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26 responses to “Sex, death and religion

  1. WOW! Honey, you had the sex, death and religion chat all within a few days of each other???? GOD help you indeed. 🙂 Clearly I have no insight to help here beyond what I remember my Mum explaining to me and she kept it all very factual like you have but never ever lied. Age appropriate explanations of course and I, who asked the question “why?” about 100 times a day (still do!) was always quite satisfied with the answer. She told me so much about where babies came from that I told every other child at kindy that they had no idea what they were on about.

    • My 4yo’s fave word is ”why” and so it’s just a matter of me deciding how much to tell him when, really. I don’t have a problem with him knowing the ‘facts’ but kind of figured at 4 years of age…? Was hoping to hold off on all that a little while longer! 🙂

  2. we woke up one morning to the kids patting a possum head in the driveway. And talking to it…. A POSSUM HEAD (fuck knows the the rest of the body was) So no Harry, you cannot take your new pet to school……………..

  3. You’re funny. We have great conversations like this too. One day I was driving to school through a shopping area and the question about how do you make babies came up. You remember things like that. We talk about seeds too.
    My 6yo wants me to have another baby, but a boy, definitely a boy. So cute. So definite.
    Wait til your kids go to school and come home swearing “sexy” or “f*ck.” It’s pretty powerful. I’ve learned to say, “Do you know what that means?” They say no. So I say, “Why would you say words if you don’t know what they mean?” Mind you the 6yo said sexy means you kiss and cuddle… not far off. Video clips are pretty raunchy.
    I have spiritual beliefs which I share with my boys. They also have scripture at school. One day I wrote about scripture here: http://francesjones.posterous.com/scripture
    I love the way kids see things.
    Frances

    • I hate to say it but my 4yo said f*ck some time ago…luckily the novelty wore off quite quickly, but he can still come out with the odd ”ohhh, shit” when something doesn’t go his way. No idea where he learnt that from…

  4. Ha! I just wrote about this (kinda – The Birds and the Bees)!

    And regarding God, I was born to a Jewess and a father who was kicked out of Catholic school. My aunt (father’s sister) and cousins lived 2 blocks away in their born-again Christian household. I consider myself kind of an agnostic. I don’t really believe in God, so maybe you could show me something to prove there is one. I’ve struggled with how to deal with my son. We always handled it like you did, but now that he’s older, my cousins’ kids tend to prostheletize so I’m more honest with how I feel. I told him I don’t believe, although I’d LIKE to think I’ll see my dad again, but he needs to believe whatever he wants. I told him he could learn about Christianity if he wants to, but not until he is older and able to understand it more, and not from his cousins (oy vey).

  5. I’m going to continue living in denial land and that I will never have to have that conversation(s) with my girls! LOL …. no idea how I’m going to handle that one. Other than the religion one “go ask your father” … he’s a part-time catholic, and I’m going straight to hell according to his father as I’ve never been baptized. So all questions about god will be fielded by the husbeast!

  6. Oh yes, we have had a few conversations like this recently and yes I thought I’d have a few more years up my sleeve too! Yesterday Finn asked how he got out of my tummy. I told him I went to hospital, they cut my tummy open and lifted him out. He asked lots more questions about it hurting lots and what type of knives did they use. Then when I was recounting to hubbie, he asked what I would have said if I’d had a natural birth – Ekkk!!!! That would have been a hard one!

    As for the religion knowledge I feel the same as you, I would love to believe but dont. My Dad has recently ‘found God’ and Finn has been asking about why Grandad now goes to church and I’ve been struggling to answer. As per usual with parenting I’m making it up as I go along!

    • I told James once about me being cut open and he freaked out, the poor little man! Conversation arose after he saw a bit of the scar and said what’s that, were you hurt, etc etc.. I must admit, I love hearing when another parent is making it up as they go along! 🙂

  7. Wow, he almost had the whole gammet covered all he needed was politics and he would be banned from any future dinner parties for the rest of his life!

    x Felicity

    PS Loved how Daddy planted the ‘seed’ in his mind and it grew into a question that Mummy then had to answer! x

    • Thanks for your comment Felicity 🙂 As for politics – well he knows who Barack Obama is…but not Julia Gillard.. so he should probably stick to sex and religion, topics he’ll no doubt be expert in soon if he gets his way..

  8. We had this from our Master 4 when I was pregnant with Miss Brand New. When he got to the “how did the seed get in your tummy?” questions, we went with “special cuddles”, and a change of subject!

    They certainly keep you on your toes, don’t they? Nice to know my 4 year old isn’t he only one asking the big questions!

  9. Crikey, you copped the whole catastrophe in one hit!
    Aspie teen, my youngest, not only got the whole low-down from his (much) older sisters but he’s big on the Big Bang theory, can explain the sex changing techniques of some critters and the spawning antics of others.
    We just smile and nod….

  10. Very funny post. I love how you write. Mr 4 definitely needs a referral back to daddy for that question, just as payback for using the term ‘seeds’. Talk about religious speak!

  11. Oh I’ve had so many talks like this with my kids. The hardest one was when they asked how Daddy put the seed in my tummy. I used the classic reply: ‘How do you think he put the seed inside me?’ “Oh he probably gave you one and you swallowed it,” the eldest replied. And right then I pointed out a non-existant dog on the other side of the street and managed to change the subject.

  12. I haven’t had to explain death yet. I am not looking forward to it.

    But at least your son wants the baby in your tummy… mine wants it in his. And he got really upset when I explained that only women can have babies in their tummies and he will never grow to be one.

  13. How could I not read a post with that title!?

    This had me laughing (and cringing) so much! I do not look forward to that age at all. I’m atheist and Hubby wavers between atheist and agnostic at times (he gets a bit religious when his footy team is winning) so our discussions are going to be similar. I wish I could just say “This is how it is” but I want him to choose for himself so I think all my sentences are going to start with “Some people think..”

  14. Oh boy! That’s a whole lot of deep and meaningful questions! I’d better start thinking about some answers for when those come around!

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