If I've learned anything about parenting, it seems you spend most of your time catching up to what your children have already been trying to figure out. In the last 6 months or so we've gotten a number of questions about death from the Wee One. At five years old kids are starting to figure out that things die and the natural question is "then what?" I've provided answers about the chemicals in your body going back into the Earth so that other things can grow, largely to a dissatisfied stare in return.
"So you then grow into a horse? Or a squirrel?"
"Well, maybe some of the chemicals in your body help to make up a squirrel..."
"Daddy, I'm becoming a squirrel when I die!"
We've had a few of these conversations, which have become a bit more productive over time, but it's a challenging concept so I let her go at her own pace. What I didn't expect to have a conversation about was something that came up last night.
"Raisins come from grapes, people come from apes"
The Wee One looked up and said "Why did they say that? How can we come from apes?"
Hey, teachable moment, I thought! "Well, honey, apes are kind of like our really distant cousins. People and apes share a greatgreatgreatgreatgreatgreatgreatgreatgreatgreatgreatgreatgreatgreat grandmother and..."
"But daddy, GOD made people! My friends and teachers told me that."
And I was all:
Alrighty then! Nothing like playing from behind in a game you didn't know you were in. For the next hour we chatted about religions, what it meant and why different people believe different things. She was offended that there were no "girl gods" and insisted that she should be able to grow up to be a girl god and I told her that seemed like a reasonable request. In the end she told me that she still thought god made people, but it was a girl god. For now, I'll take it.
But for an atheist family with a child going to a school that celebrates no religion-based holidays and prides itself on diversity, I was (stupidly) unprepared to field these kinds of questions. Good lesson to learn now.