As well as being a feminist, I’m also an atheist (oh, Dear Lord, how many crosses does one woman have to bear??), so whilst I love Christmas (I never reject a holiday on principle), the rise in religious clap-trap at this time of year is always mildly annoying, but hey, I’m always so busy indulging in eggnog and the odd sherry before 11am, that I kinda let it float right past me.
This year, however, Boogie is 5, and she’s at school. Now, I admit, I didn’t look at the whole issue too closely, but I did send her to a non-denominational school and there was no mention of god-bothering on the syllabus, so it seemed fine. How wrong I was. Not only can Boogie identify the local vicar at 50 paces, she can now – because the school is holding a carol service complete with Nativity play – sing enough hymns to fill a songbook.
Now, again, I’m only mildly bothered by this (god, for an atheist I’m way too easy going); I tell Boogie that the whole thing is just a story like any other and, as stories go, it’s a pretty good one. Gripping, some would say. And kids love dressing up as donkeys. And I, for my sins, loved singing hymns as a 3-times a week church-going child. In fact, I pretty much only went for the songs and the chance to stick the body of Christ to the roof of my mouth (I liked the way you could keep it there for hours and then curl it off with your tongue).
What is bothering me is the sheer joy Boogie takes in winding me up.
A sly little grin spreads across her face as she asks, ‘Do you know what I learnt at school today?’ before breaking into yet another song about weary donkeys and the iddy biddy baby Jesus. She gets two lines into the song before doubling over with laughter at my raised eyebrow. She’s 5 and she’s actively taunting me. Wasn’t this supposed to be the teenaged years? Did I miss a meeting?
I say it bothers me but, of course, I’m actually a teensy bit proud. She actually understands that my viewpoints don’t neccesarily match those of others; she understands that what some people tell her is true may in fact be false. She’s thinking. And I’m proud.