Dec 2004

After practising counting up to 20 one night. "Daddy, when do you stop counting?". "You don't - you just go on for ever". "But how long does it take before you finish?".


Feb 2004

We were at Xander's swimming lesson and there were only 3 children in the pool, each with a suitably earnest parent. The next task was to climb out of the pool by themselves. First out was the boy at the other end. The teacher praised the boy valiantly - "what a strong boy you are, Oliver. Aren't you strong?" The boy beamed and nodded and by this time Xander and the little girl next to him were out. Obviously wishing to treat the others equally, the teacher reprised "And Sally aren't you a strong girl as well?". The little girl looked shy but nodded happily. "And Alexander you're out too - you're a strong boy, too aren't you?". There was a silence as Xander looked rather blank. The teacher wide-eyed with enthusiasm was nodding encouragingly. The silence seemed to get louder - for some reason everyone else in the pool had stopped shouting. The teacher continued to look at Xander expectantly. Her enthusiastic question meant a reply was expected but Xander wasn't saying anything and the pause had grown longer than was polite. By now all the other parents ranged along the end of the pool were all looking at Xander as well, wondering why nothing was happening and what the teacher was waiting for. Still he just stared blankly in the direction of the teacher, not giving anything away. Suddenly, he lifted his head slightly and gazed sharply into the teacher's eyes. He was going to say something. The teacher's eyes widened with relief, happy that Xander's reticence was over. "STICKY, GICKY, SMELLY SOCKS!!!!!" he shouted at the top of his voice. Now for me, this was not a surprise since it was a favourite phrase of his at the moment, just a silly thing that he said when he couldn't think of anything else to say. Still, the look on the teacher's face as the echo of his voice faded away around the swimming pool was memorable, to say the least.

Feb 2004

Xander's grandma is known as Abuela and she lives in Billericay. Walking past the St. Albans football stadium, Mum was explaining that sometimes other teams come to play there and other times St. Albans team goes to play in other towns. "Sometimes, Billericay comes to play football here", said Mum, trying to relate the conversation to something familiar. "Hmmm...." said Xander, thoughtfully "Abuela will need to practice".

March 2004

We were eating tea and Xander helped himself to a slice of ham. "How do pigs get into ham?" he asked. I paused. "Well" I explained, "they have to slice up the pigs". "But only when they're dead", I added imagining the horrific scenario that I had just conjured up. "People have to kill them" I said, feeling that this wasn't a full enough explanation. "But they try to do it without hurting the pigs", I carried on, thinking of the pink fluffy cuddly pig that was usually flopped around the landing upstairs. There was a gap as Xander chewed and I contemplated the rather surprising scene that I had portrayed wherein people kill pigs without hurting them. Oh well..."They have special guns that shoot big amounts of electricity which just stun the pigs so they can kill them without them feeling it".

More chewing ensued. "Err...what do you think about that?" I said, beginning to be quite worried about my lack of parental responsibility with my son's mental health. Having traumatised him, perhaps I could have a stab at repairing some of the damage in a psychologist's couch sort of way. "Daddy, can you get my helicopter?", he replied.

March 2004

Each night Xander cleans his teeth before going to bed and one night I cleaned my teeth at the same time because I'd forgotten to do it earlier in the day. Afterwards, as I bent down to wipe Xander's mouth, he said your toothpaste smells nice, Daddy". "Yes, I said - yours does too. All the girls will want to kiss you after you've cleaned your teeth". He pootled off and I assumed this remark had sailed way over his head. Some time later, he grazed his knee slightly but was insisting on plasters and ointment together with lots of fuss. "This is Daddy's special ointment", said I opening a pot of Germolene that was decades old inherited from my parents. "Smell this" I said poking the tin under Xander's nose. "Mmmm...yes", he piped, clearly impressed. I continued to rub it into his knee. "All the girls will want to kiss my knee, now, Daddy", he continued. "Yes", said I.

April 2004

I was taking Xander to the swings by himself and he was eating a hot cross bun in the back. "Do you know why it's got a cross on it", said I, conversationally. "Not sure", he replied. Well, a long time ago, there was a man called Jesus Christ and he died on a cross and people who are Christians remember that by having Easter and eating hot cross buns, explained I. In hindsight it should have been clear that this statement begged many more questions than answers. "Why was he on the cross, Daddy?". Well, some nasty people put him on the cross and let him die, I said, thinking of the millions of children who had endured the story of Easter without any permanent mental disturbance. "But why did he die?". Pause. "Well he couldn't eat or drink anything so eventually he died" I said, not entirely accurately. This conversation was going further than originally intended. "But how did they stick him to the cross, Daddy?". It appeared that with unerring direction, Xander had got to the heart of the matter in less than 5. Strive as I was, there was no way out but the direct way. "Well, they were very nasty men so they nailed his hands onto the cross. That wasn't very nice, was it?". "No", said Xander. There was a long gap - much contemplation was occurring in the back. "They could have used blue-tac, Daddy...". I was impressed with Xander's humane response to the issue. "Well.....I don't think they had blue-tac back in those days but they did have rope so they could have tied his hands on couldn't they?". "Yes, that would have been better", concluded Xander, happy that the problem was solved.

April 2004

"Mummy, does it hurt when you die?"

May 2004

"Where did Mummy and Daddy come from?"

May 2004

"Mummy, the universe is the biggest thing in the whole world." Pause. "And Space is, too."

June 2004

Xander: "How did God get made?".
Me: "That is a very clever question and, unfortunately, nobody knows the answer to it. How do you think God was made?".
Xander: "He came from an apple tree".
Me: "Has someone been telling you a story about Adam and Eve and an apple?".
Xander: "No".

July 2004

When being kissed goodnight: 'Daddy, why do we have our sleep?'.

July 2004

'Daddy, what are dreams for?'

August 2004

Just having come back from the cinema where we had several sweets including a very large round one that only just fitted in Xander's mouth and changed colour every few minutes of sucking: "Xander - tell Mummy what that sweet was that you had at the cinema". "I had a Stop-gobbler, Mummy".

August 2004

"Daddy, how do brains think?"

August 2004

Mummy was in the bath. Xander looking in cheerily, offered a word of explanation: "Mummy, you haven't got any energy because you haven't got a willy". Harry was also in the bathroom and hearing this, also offered his sympathy for poor Mummy's predicament. Shaking his head mournfully and agreeing: "Mummy, you haven't got a willy on your bottom".

October 2004

But Xander I don't think they sell these Jack Stone lego things anymore so we can't put them on your Christmas list. "Oh Daddy, don't be silly, Father Christmas is magic so he can get anything".

Xander, what would you like to do when you grow up? "I'm not sure because I like too many things. When I grow up then I'll decide."

November 2004

While coming home from school, me on my bike, Xander on the piggy-back bike attached to the saddle of mine. "Daddy, how did God make the Sky?". Well, I just don't know Xander. Some people say that God knows everything and can do anything. And so only God knows how he made things. Anyway, when you're looking at the sky you're just looking into Space really! But no-one knows how God made Space either.

[Some minutes later and with some exasperation]. "But Daddy, what is God for?!".


January 2004

Bedtime conversation. "Daddy, why didn't Uncle Hugh die when he had only one leg?" Well, Xander you don't always die just because a bit of you is cut off. "But Daddy, why do you die when your head is cut off then?" Ahhhhhhh, well...... because your brain is in your head and that's what makes your body and your legs and arms work so without your brain, your body can't work... "But you would carry on thinking, wouldn't you?". Well no [ad-libbing madly now] I'm afraid not because, also, there's another reason - when your head comes off, so much blood comes out that you can't live anymore. You need lots of blood going round your body to live so if you lose most of it then you die. "But why don't you die when your leg comes off, then?". Well most of your blood is in your body so as long as you stop the blood coming out quickly enough, you've still got enough to live. If your head comes off, most of your blood is in your body so your head hasn't got enough to live. And also [finally thought it through, properly now], your heart is in your body and your heart is the pump that makes the blood go around your body. Like the pump in the shower that makes the water come out or the pump in the fishtank that makes the air bubbles come out. So without that your head doesn't get any blood and can't live. "Does it go round in little pipes in your body then? Is that what I can see in my hand?". [phew!] Yes, it does - they're called veins. [thinking subject is now sorted]. "Daddy why do you live?". Errrr...well because if you don't then you die. "What happens when you die, then?". Well, if you die, you can't do anything - your body doesn't move and your brain doesn't work any longer. "But Daddy why ARE you alive?". Well if you can move around and think, then you're alive. "Is it best to be alive then?" Well yes, because then you can do things. You don't want to be dead because then you can't do anything. [pretty forlorn explanation. If only I were religious, things would be much simpler] "But if you were dead, you wouldn't mind being dead." [Long pause while I try to work that one out]. Well, yes, Xander, I think you're right there. "Yes, Daddy, if you're alive you don't mind being alive and if you're dead you don't mind being dead".


Feb 2005

Another bedtime conversation. "Daddy, when I'm old I'm going to go in a rocket and go into space and catch the biggest asteroid. And then when a comet comes that might come and kill lots of people I'm going to catch it to stop it hitting them." Me: "Alexander, that's an excellent idea; very clever of you to think that up. Will you steer the asteroid in the way of the comet?". Alexander: "No I will have a big machine on the asteroid with a great big cup and that will catch the comet". But how will you make sure that the asteroid gets in the way of the comet to catch it - will you steer it into the right place?". Alexander: "No, you'll just have to be lucky".


August 2005

Mummy, is God real? (recently discovered that Father Christmas wasn't real so now doubting all sorts of things).


September 2005

While reading "101 Dalmations". "Daddy, why are some people bad?". "Well I'm not really sure, some people are just like that." Xander thinking very hard: "But babies aren't bad, are they?".


October 2005

Xander is very aware of the fact that the smallest particle that exists is a "photon" - the tiny pieces of light that don't weigh anything (at least he's aware of it because I told him that; this is probably not right but it was a better answer than some, as is obvious from the above). Xander: "Daddy, if you cut a photon in half, how big is it?". Dad: "It's half the size of a photon, Xander". (this, of course, was neither helpful and nor was it correct). "Xander: So if you keep cutting it in half do you end up with nothing?". Dad: (Oh Christ) "Well actually, I don't think that people think that you can necessarily cut a photon in half. Some people think that a photon is a tiny weeny point that is indivisible and can't be cut in half. And other people think that a photon is just a little ring that wobbles up and down and..." tail off because Xander is busy shooting a toy car across the floor and clearly not taking any notice of the incomprehensible piffle I am trying to brainwash him with.

Xander: "is God real?". Dad: "Well that's a very difficult question Xander. Some people think so - people who are religious, think that God is real and they worship him.". Xander: "No, I mean do you think he is real?".


November 2005

Xander; Daddy, who killed Jesus? Was it the Germans?



Xander to Grandma: Are you going to die soon?

Grandma: No, I don't think so. I'm feeling quite healthy at the moment.

Xander: When are you going to die then?

Grandma: When I'm very old I should think.

Xander: Oh. (and trots off).


August 2006

Harry: Mummy, what is time?


July 2006

Harry: (doing his best to look wise but maintaining a matter-of-fact air) I know what God looks like.

Dad: Oh yeah. What does he look like.

Harry: He's got a yellow hat.


Sep 2006

Some further weeks later: "Daddy, what powers a photon?". Dad: ...some thought...well, I'm not sure anything does really. "But how does it go so fast then?" Well maybe it's because it's so infinitesimally light that it doesn't need any power to keep moving so very fast, it just keeps going.


October 2007

Xander goes to the toilet. Sometime later, voice shouting from the bathroom: "Daddy?".

Dad: "Yes"

Xander: "I don't think my crackling digested very well."

Dad: Why's that?

Xander: "No. But I can see grey bits in my poo that look like it."

Dad (repulsed): "Xander, I do not want to know about the contents of your poo, thank you. It's revolting!".

Xander: "But, Daddy, I thought you were interested in Geography?".


September 2008

Xander is showing me a picture of his imaginary planet which includes a picture of the alien that lives on the planet. All aspects are labelled.

Dad: It's very good Xander, blah....blah. But if the planet has infinite gravity, won't the alien be squashed.

Xander: That's why the alien is flat and it's legs stick out flat, too.

Dad: But Xander infinite gravity means the alien will be squashed to flatter than a layer of atoms!

Xander: Well the alien is infinitely light, then.

Dad: Oh......but.......well........., OK, I guess that must be alright, then.


February 2009

The children are presented with a competition form to win a prize meal for Mother's Day. "My Mummy deserves to win a free Mother's Day lunch because...."

Jessica's form: "My Mummy should win a free Mother's Day lunch because she is lovely".

Katrina's form: "My Mummy should win a free Mother's Day lunch because she helps me with my homework, makes me dinner and breakfast, looks after me if I get hurt, buys me nice clothes...."...etc. etc.

Xander's form: "My Mummy should win a free Mother's Day lunch because she is hungry".



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james at masters.me.uk