I wrote this in the summer last year – and have just found it again, and it still has resonance for me so I thought I’d share it with you…
No.1 son decided on the way home from cubs to talk about words; “What does truce mean?”
I gave him a brief explanation about how it’s just a way to make an agreement, and it’s a good way to keep the peace – my mind was already on making lunches and ironing uniforms for the next day.
“Why don’t the armies do that then? Why don’t they just call one of these truces and not go to war?”
The idle chat on the journey home instantly became one of those moments – well, it did for me at any rate. I was suddenly desperate to give him the right answer – but what was that exactly? What was I supposed to say?
He sat looking at me as I scratched around for a response, until finally huffing at me he turned to look out of the window.
I lurched into a bumbling explanation that both sides need to want peace to call a truce, and that’s not always how it is…which naturally lead to a waterfall of more questions, it turned out that I had entered… The ChildMind-field. That day at school they had been talking about soldiers, and communicating with different cultures.
“Mum, did you know Muslims don’t celebrate Christmas? That’s not even fair, how can Father Christmas leave those children out?”
He was outraged on behalf of the present-less children, and I just pulled a blank – what could I say? He was 9 a week ago, and I’ve been really keen for him to keep his Christmas belief for one last year, and the absolute unfairness of his observation struck me that I may have succeeded a little too well – he did believe. But he was now vilifying a cheerful old man in a red velvet suit for leaving other children out.
I need a handbook that has all the answers, as I never seem to have the right ones. I just offer up explanations hoping I get across a fair opinion for all, and in the meantime I just make things worse by offering too much information, or maybe not enough – or in the case of good ol’ Saint Nick, by not just telling him the truth…