When Prole1 was six we hung a set of planets from the bedroom ceiling, spiralling out from one of the down lighters which served as the Sun.
They had looked at Planets at school and he had brought back a book from the library and went through them all until he could recite the in the right order.
About a week later we saw the set for sale in town.
Prole1’s eyes lit up with the special fire that scares me so I bought them.

Me: Ok, we all have jobs, Prole1 finds the planets and hands them to Prole2 who hands them to me and I will attach them. Got it?

Proles: GOT IT!

Me: Ok let’s go.

Prole1: Mercury!

Prole2: Mercury!

Me: Messenger of the Gods. Mercury.

Prole1: Venus!

Prole2: Venus!

Me: Goddess of Love. Venus.

Prole1: Earth!

Prole2: World!

Me: Whole World in his hands. Earth.

Prole1: Mars!

Proel2: Mars!

Me: God of War. Mars.

Prole1: Jupiter!

Prole2: Jupiter!

Me: King of the Gods. Jupiter.

Prole1: Saturn!

Prole2: Saturn.

Me: God of wealth, wearing rings. Saturn

Prole1: Uranus!

Prole2: Uranus!

Me: UUuummmm…Uranus.

Prole2: What was that one?

Me: Sorry?

Prole1: Uranus? What God is Uranus?

Me: I have no idea. Sorry.

Short silence. Prole1 was silent. Prole2 picked his nose.

Don’t judge me. I still don’t know.
I will have to google it one day.

Prole1: Neptune!


Me: Neptune! Don’t worry, I will get the planet. Wash that off. Neptune God of the sea.

Prole2: What is that?

Me: I think you should wash your hands…..

Prole2: No, that!

There was a small blue round shape in the bag.

Prole1: That is Pluto. It’s not a planet. It has been classified as a rock or something.

Prole2 was still in a phase which meant that the reclassification of planets, the loss of crucial toys or a bread stick breaking in the wrong way could trigger a complete emotional and physical shut down. This proceeded to happen right in front of us.

Me: Can we hang it anyway?

Prole1 (passing it over): Ok. But I will know

The planets looked great. Prole1 was very pleased with this.
A few days later he was sitting on the top bunk staring at the planets.

Me: You Ok?

Prole1: Did science make the Planets? Or did God?

Me(instantly stalling): Why do you ask?

Prole1: Well God made the world in a week but the planets took millions of years and the World is a planet so did God make the world after science made the planets?

Me: …..um…..

Now I know what I believe about this.
I also know this is not a view shared by everybody in the world.
Do I tell him what I think is right, therefore setting him on one course for the rest of his life?
I mean, I tell him all sorts of things about the world like crossing the road and which fork to use and toilet training and so on which, to be blunt, I don’t want to get into a philosophical conversation about. I want him to accept some things point blank, no questions.
There are some things, the bigger questions that I feel I have answered to myself but which are part of the journey of life.
Brutal didacticism stamped so much joy out of my life I’d rather the Proles ran freely through the meadows of discovery and not have my belief system yoking them for their early years.
I would rather he figure these things out for himself.
So I gave him the guff answer:

Me: Well some people believe one thing and some people believe another. It really depends which one you think is right.

Prole1: Yes, but which one IS right?

There followed a lot of guff.
Guff is good for a bit.

Fortunately the cavalry was about to arrive. A man who manages to balance Science and Logic with Theology in the most perfect manner. A man who would be able to put both arguments forward with decades of experience in this field.
He is a Christian, he is also a scientist and best of all he likes people to make up their own mind.
Every family should have one.

A Cannon Emeritus of Salisbury Cathedral came to stay.

For the most part he is known as Grandpa but for the purposes of this story his qualification as Cannon Emeritus of Salisbury Cathedral is most pertinent.

On arrival in the house the Cannon Emeritus of Salisbury Cathedral was primed on Prole1’s questions over existentialism and planetary formation.
The Cannon Emeritus of Salisbury Cathedral is an old Pro. He nodded in a business like fashion.

Cannon Emeritus of Salisbury Cathedral: I shall tread carefully.

I spoke to Prole1.

Me: Hey, why don’t you take the Cannon Emeritus of Salisbury Cathedral upstairs and show him your planets?

They went up stairs and chatted for a long time while Prole2 and I mucked about in the living room and did play fights.
After a while the Cannon Emeritus of Salisbury Cathedral came downstairs.

Cannon Emeritus of Salisbury Cathedral: Well that was VERY interesting. We had a long chat but I think we got somewhere. I told him all about the formation of the universe and how long it has been here. We talked a lot about stars and black holes. It was very interesting.

So we sat and had a cup of tea and a bit of a chat and me and Prole2 did some more play fights and the Cannon Emeritus of Salisbury Cathedral read the paper.
I suddenly became aware that Prole1 was not with us and all was silent upstairs.

That either meant he was crying or thinking and neither is ideal in my view.

I went into his room and he was lying flat on his back, his glasses on his chest, the pillow was stained with his tears. He was silently crying and could hardly breathe through the sobs.

Me: Are you Ok?

Prole1: No.

Me: Why?

Prole1: Well, once our Sun has gone Supernova I know by that time the human race may have the technology to make spaceships and stuff to go to another solar system. But what happens….what…..what happens…

He lunged over for a hug and it was a while before he got back to the point.

Prole1: What happens when all the Suns go Supernova and the Galaxy is dead? Everything. Everything will be dead!

I went back down stairs.

Cannon Emeritus of Salisbury Cathedral: Is everything all right? Any problems with him?

Me: I think you had better go up again, he has another question.