Monday, June 23, 2008

Points of View

Scene: Dinner table, we're all sitting down, worked out who is having the blue fork, who doesn't want to eat the lamb, what the inside of a pea looks like...we're settling in to eat. Fred is musing aloud, half to herself.
Fred: It's not Tom's world. It's my world...
Me: Why's that?
Fred (looking around): It's from my eyes, from inside me, that everything is seen.

Scene: After Dinner. We're reading a picture book in which there is brief mention of a beauty contest.
Fred: What's she doing? Why has she got those things?
Me: She's in a beauty show.
Fred: What's that?
Me (uncomfortable): It's a show where people get up, like these three girls and judges decide who's the prettiest. I don't really like them.
Fred: Why not?
Una: She's the prettiest (pointing at the winner, who is holding a trophy and has a ribbon across her chest)
Mum: well don't you think these two girls look a bit sad that they weren't chosen? It doesn't really matter who is the prettiest. There's lots of other things that are important, like being smart, or funny, or nice, or happy...
I trail off. Then I venture tentatively: Would you like to go to a beauty contest?
Fred: No
Mum: (feeling kind of relieved) Why not?
Fred: (sadly) Because I wouldn't win.
Ensuing hugs and reassurance, I tell her what the judges can't see is that she has a beautiful heart, and a beautiful soul. Inside, I'm breaking. And the crazy thing is, Frederique is really truly beautiful. I know I'm biased. But she is. She really is.

A few weeks ago, we're at the hospital visiting Martin's father. We walk past a multifaith room for 'quiet reflection'. Fred asks me what it's for. I stumble and say it's for people to go and pray or think quiet thoughts or meditate.
Fred: What's pray?
Me: It's something people do who believe in God. They might go into that room, and hold their hands like this. If they're sick, they might ask him to help them get better, or they might ask him to help make them feel happy (I know, like god's a commercial transaction - I was so not prepared for the question).
Fred: What's god?
I honestly can't remember what I answered. It's very hard to explain the concept of something that some people believe is true and some people don't to a little girl who has never yet questioned the existence of Santa or fairies in a way that is respectful to the people who do believe in God (I don't, but I went to church often when I was growing up, and some people in Martin's family are quite strongly Christian and my sister was born again once, the wedding Fred went to earlier this year was fairly religious, and probably the one we're going to in September will be too).
I believe I said something along the lines of: Some people think that God made the world and all the flowers and people, like a kind of Mother or Father.
Fred: Where is God?
Me: (with a nervous laugh) Well, those people believe god is everywhere, in everything (this concept FREAKED ME OUT as a child).
Fred lost interest then.
Later at home, she's dragging a cushion up the stairs and muttering to herself.
Me: Who are you talking to? (she has a number of regular invisible friends, that she now refers to as her Maginary Friends)
Fred: (offhand) God.


  1. That's really gorgeous Pen.

    Alexander is most interested in God. He's at a Quaker school, so it's going to be part of the curriculum and we are fine with that. He wonders a lot about God and asks what God made, makes really perceptive comments about it all.

    He used to ask if God made John Howard. *sigh* He's not really interested in politics now that the Libs have gone. *deeper sigh*

  2. Ah yes, it begins. Lulu was asking me who 'made' her the other day and I was explaining that she was made inside my belly etc and grew inside me, that Mum and Dad made her. Hard enough to explain right?
    Asha pipes up with, no, God made us, God made all the people.
    After much prodding found out that she learned this from a video through the school. The government school she goes to which has quite a lot of religious learning (all Christian).
    Like you I went on to explain that 'some people' believe and even tried to quash the notion that God is an 'old man'.
    It's all too hard. I wish that this school wasn't like it, in fact it has been taken to the Human Right's Commission over it.
    Very hard to tell a child that she should believe the 'facts' that she is taught at school when they are teaching 'facts' about religion!

  3. I've had some hysterical conversations with my eldest about God, because he went to a Uniting preschool. They did a great version of religion, so it was pretty easy to agree with the sentiment and point out that not everyone believes it. I particularly liked the bit where God was a girl in a white dress, not to be confused with the angels who wear purple (obviously!).

    I love the world view. Very astute!

    Thanks for the beauty contest thing, it gives me time to think of an answer. Something about having to decide who is prettiest, which is silly because everyone is beautiful to someone. And I really mean that - when my friends comment on who they find attractive in both genders, I am reminded that it is an absolute truth!

  4. Lovely. And funny.

    2) breaks my heart, too ... it's awful how young the 'not good enough' stuff starts

    3) very sensible. And her reaction was very sensible too, adding God to her pantheon of imaginary friends.

    F asked me if God was a myth, to which I said 'YES!'

    Enjoy your break ... sounds heavenly ... (no pun originally intended)

  5. Anonymous4:37 PM

    Do you remember little Ep, say
    7-ish, and her freckles? Covers two bits of the story I'd say.

  6. Anonymous5:58 PM

    I'm a fan of your work, especially your poignant stories about your family. Being the voyeur that i am, i've seen your photos of your girls on flickr and as a totally unbiased random person, i agree that she is beautiful. How could any little girl (or boy) with blond hair be anything but :) And my friend told me the other day there are no ugly people, if only more people were like him.

    from, a little girl who always wished she had blond hair, even now she's not so little anymore.

  7. Ah, I think the beauty thing may be even more difficult than the religion thing! My parents went the way of trying to avoid me having a 'big head'... I think I would rather have a big ego. But of course the in-between is preferred (confident, but not believing beauty is the be all and end all)... just... how does one do it? *shrugs*

    As usual, Fred is thoroughly entertaining!