You can’t marry your sister

LoveThe Boy is really into asking awkward questions at awkward times.

Just as our friends were saying their vows, unamplified at an outdoor wedding, he asks in a piercing voice: “Why did the people want to kill Jesus?”

Or on a ferry, surrounded by bored people with nothing better to do than eavesdrop on the moral and social education of our son, he wants to know the ins and outs of who can marry who. “Why can’t I marry my sister?” he asks, puzzled. I do my best by explaining that there are different kinds of love. Friend love and family love and the special love that you have for the person you marry.

He nods sagely. “You can NEVER marry your friends.”

“Well,” I back-paddle. “You might find that you start to feel that special love for one of your friends.”

He ponders this. “So why can’t I marry my sister?”

I try to give a sanitized child-friendly explanation of the dangers of mating with someone with very similar DNA. He doesn’t get it all but slowly the awareness seems to sink in that you can’t marry people who are already family.

It’s okay though. The Boy isn’t really planning to marry his sister. He has already chosen his future bride. They had been friends since they were very little and when they discovered there was such a thing as marriage they felt the choice was obvious. It is all decided between them: they will live in a big house in Wales with their 100 children and us parents are expected to visit regularly.

It’s very cute and I wonder sometimes how long this will go on for. Perhaps they will find new and different friends now that they are at different schools and their friendship will dull and the dreams of a house packed with children amid the rolling hills will fade until they are forgotten. Or perhaps they will stay close through the years and when hormones stir they will become Boyfriend and Girlfriend. I have seen this too among my friends’ children.

Today, the Boy asked: “Mama, how do you fall in love with someone?”

I braced myself and plunged in, preparing myself to help him work out future feelings for his chosen bride: “Well, when you see them you get butterflies in your tummy and you love spending time with them. You love looking at them and talking to them and hearing their voice and you want to cuddle them and hold them close all the time.”

His eyes shone in recognition.

“Yes!” he said. “That is how I feel about you, Mummy.”

Love. We’re still working on it.