My children go to a Church of England school. It is a small, country, Victorian school with the church next door - overlooking rolling Sussex hills and with a playground next to rusty brown cows. You could say it is idyllic. Except we had no choice of which school to attend, according to our religion. You see, we are atheists. There are no schools for us around these parts. Consequently my children know very little about God or Jesus, or the bible. It's not that I won't tell them, it hasn't really come up in conversation before, until they went to school.
Day one, last week, P proudly put on her new shiny school shoes, donned her uniform and posed for the obligatory first-day-at-school-photo's. Holding her book bag, PE kit and a bag full of nerves, she bravely stood in her line and entered the school system. I felt the same emotions as when A left for her first day, that time had passed so quickly, that they were wonderful little girls embarking on a new chapter, and sad for me.
"What did you do today P?" I asked, eager to know how she got on afterwards, thinking that she looked too small to be at school.
"We did praying," she replied nonchalantly.
"Oh, what did you have to do?" I queried, thinking "blimey, they got the God stuff in fast!"
"Well, you have to close your eyes really gently, not screw them up like this," cue demonstration
"..and you put your hands together like this, and thank God."
"Thank God for what?" I asked
"For letting me do painting!" she stated exasperated at my questions.
So we left it there. I wasn't going to go any further, just a bit surprised that this is what P remembered and learnt about on her first day. Mmmmm.
Day three, P came home from school.
" Who is God, mummy?"
"Ummmmm..." I was trying to think about a good politically correct answer.
"Because I asked my teacher today," she finished her sentence.
I cringed inwardly, now the teachers knew I was a non-believer, they probably think I vote Labour and read The Guardian as well. Bum, my cover had been blown.
"Well, what did she say?"
"She said that God was there," P pointed at the chair
"....and there...and there!" she pointed to the ceiling and the window.
"God is EVERYWHERE!" she explained dramatically in the way that P does.
"BUT I CAN'T SEE HIM!" she exclaimed frustrated.
I could see her point.