Scene: Dinner table, we're all sitting down, worked out who is having the blue fork, who doesn't want to eat the lamb, what the inside of a pea looks like...we're settling in to eat. Fred is musing aloud, half to herself.
Fred: It's not Tom's world. It's my world...
Me: Why's that?
Fred (looking around): It's from my eyes, from inside me, that everything is seen.
Scene: After Dinner. We're reading a picture book in which there is brief mention of a beauty contest.
Fred: What's she doing? Why has she got those things?
Me: She's in a beauty show.
Fred: What's that?
Me (uncomfortable): It's a show where people get up, like these three girls and judges decide who's the prettiest. I don't really like them.
Fred: Why not?
Una: She's the prettiest (pointing at the winner, who is holding a trophy and has a ribbon across her chest)
Mum: well don't you think these two girls look a bit sad that they weren't chosen? It doesn't really matter who is the prettiest. There's lots of other things that are important, like being smart, or funny, or nice, or happy...
I trail off. Then I venture tentatively: Would you like to go to a beauty contest?
Mum: (feeling kind of relieved) Why not?
Fred: (sadly) Because I wouldn't win.
Ensuing hugs and reassurance, I tell her what the judges can't see is that she has a beautiful heart, and a beautiful soul. Inside, I'm breaking. And the crazy thing is, Frederique is really truly beautiful. I know I'm biased. But she is. She really is.
A few weeks ago, we're at the hospital visiting Martin's father. We walk past a multifaith room for 'quiet reflection'. Fred asks me what it's for. I stumble and say it's for people to go and pray or think quiet thoughts or meditate.
Fred: What's pray?
Me: It's something people do who believe in God. They might go into that room, and hold their hands like this. If they're sick, they might ask him to help them get better, or they might ask him to help make them feel happy (I know, like god's a commercial transaction - I was so not prepared for the question).
Fred: What's god?
I honestly can't remember what I answered. It's very hard to explain the concept of something that some people believe is true and some people don't to a little girl who has never yet questioned the existence of Santa or fairies in a way that is respectful to the people who do believe in God (I don't, but I went to church often when I was growing up, and some people in Martin's family are quite strongly Christian and my sister was born again once, the wedding Fred went to earlier this year was fairly religious, and probably the one we're going to in September will be too).
I believe I said something along the lines of: Some people think that God made the world and all the flowers and people, like a kind of Mother or Father.
Fred: Where is God?
Me: (with a nervous laugh) Well, those people believe god is everywhere, in everything (this concept FREAKED ME OUT as a child).
Fred lost interest then.
Later at home, she's dragging a cushion up the stairs and muttering to herself.
Me: Who are you talking to? (she has a number of regular invisible friends, that she now refers to as her Maginary Friends)
Fred: (offhand) God.