jeudi, avril 07, 2005

Mummy, is being kosher the same as being allergic?

The other day we were walking to school and Raphael, who's nearly six, asked me if he was English or French. Not particularly keen, at 8.30 am, to get into any kind of proper conversation, I said 'Both,' and assumed that would be the end of it. In the universe of children's conversation, some questions require an answer, the kind of answer that only a grown-up, with grown-up experience and wisdom hard-won through cramming for exams, however long ago, can provide. (Why do the days get longer in the summer time? How do you make electricity? That sort of stuff. You rarely do know the answer, but you know there is an answer, somewhere. Someone knows the answer, even if you have forgotten it, or never knew it.) Other questions, more philosophical ones, are more like conversational gambits, hooks on which to hang germinating ideas about the world and its assembled wonders. (Anything to do with God falls into that category.) I assumed that Raphael's question was straightforward enough, the first kind; factual, a kind of 'just checking'.

'I can't be both,' he protested.

'You are,' I answered shortly.

'You can't be English and French together,' he said. His tone was dangerously whiny. I am not at my best in the morning.

'Well, you can always choose, if you really don't want to be both,' I said curtly. It seemed pitifully easy a concept to grasp.

'I don't understand,' he said, mutinous, determined. 'You can't be Jewish and Christian. So you can't be English and French'.

And of course, immigration technicalities aside, he's right.