Thursday 19 September 2013

Celestial insurance

Hermaphrodite Mum
Three kids and a single mum

Middle child has been doing some deep thinking about God recently. He is at a point in his life where he needs God, like a security blanket. The world is becoming a scary place. People die and don't come back. Whereas Quiet One takes a more flippant approach ("You die, so what?"), he is looking for an insurance policy. At bedtime, he asked if I could send him a message - when I died - to reassure him that heaven did exist. I promised, if I had the good fortune to end up in heaven, I would do my best to get in touch.

Lundy Island, North Devon
'Is there a heaven, Mummy?'
Earlier this week the novelist Margaret Atwood, in an interview on Radio 4, alluded to our spiritual need to understand where we come from. While discussing the "Crakers", a race of genetically engineered humans in her MaddAddam trilogy, she observed:
"They are also doing what children do once the discover the past tense and the future tense - so they have to have, 'Where did we come from' and that results in a theology."

For Middle Child, it is about learning to accept that one day he may no longer exist. At the same time, he is grappling with the idea of change: growing up and embracing new experiences. Starting a new school year has got him thinking back to his nursery days when he was able to spend more time at home. "I will never get my old life back," he lamented at the breakfast table, glancing enviously at Non-walking Toddler. 

His very position in the family as middle child means that he is forever looking forwards and backwards. I wish I could promise him heaven when the future tense runs out, but I don't have all the answers. Sadly, that's some thing else he will have to learn.

Hermaphrodite Mum is a fictional creation of Emma Clark Lam
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