Being friends is more important than being right (according to my 5 year old, a conversation on the train about God and beliefs).

This morning’s Conversation On The Train with my 5 year old was a corker. Friends will know that because we moved house at the end of the school year, my dear Small Boy now goes to school 14 miles from our front door. Not being a driver means we stroll out of the door at 0730 in the mornings and join a gaggle of commuters on the train. It’s usually here that he chooses to ask some pretty big questions; so far we’ve had ‘If I marry a boy can I have a baby?’ ‘How many moons are there in all of space?’ and my personal highlight ‘Does nobody want to marry you Mama?’

J: “Mama where did the first people come from that growed all the people?”

Me: “Oh this is a LONG story. Do you want to hear a long story?”

J: “Yes! Yes I love stories!”

Me: “Okay. Well, you know in church sometimes you hear stories from the Bible?”

J: “Oh yes! The one you said about the man made from mud and the woman made from a rib!”

Me: “Yep. Well that’s a story about where the first man and woman came from. But because the story was written many many many years ago, some people think it’s just a story, and some people have different ones… Some people think the world was made in seven days, by God who was the father of Jesus. Some people believe it was made in six days, Muslim people who call God ‘Allah’.”

(J likes this one and pronounces ‘Allah’ a few times.)

Me: “Some people believe the world was made from breaking an egg-”

J: “AN EGG?!!”

Me: “Yep, a great big world-creating egg, and some people believe it was very carefully made out of wood – these are Hindu beliefs and their creator’s name is Brahma.”

J: “What about the bang?”

Me: “The bang?”

J: “Yes like on the Big Bang Theory.”
(Me, laughing hysterically, bursts into yhe theme tune): “Well…. the whole universe was in a hot dense place nearly 14 million years ago expansion started….”

Both: “WE BUILT THE PYRAMIDS! And Maths, Science, History, unravelling the mystery, that all started with the big BANG.”

Me: “And that’s another story.”

J: “What story do you believe is true Mama?”

Me: “All of them.”

J: “ALL of them?”

Me: “Yep. Because I like stories. And there could be a bang and an egg and a carpenter and six days of hard-God-work to make the world and it could all be true.”

J: “But what do you think God is called?”

Me: “God, and Allah, and Brahma, and Buddha” (he’s 5, cut me some slack…)

J: “But my friend at school says there’s only one God and he was having an argument with my other friend.”

Me: “Yeah some grown ups do that too. But I think of it like this. You know your Mama is called Jack? And Tommy’s Mama is Evelyn, and Faith’s Mama is Kyla?”

J: “Yes! So wait so some people’s God is called Jesus and some people’s is called Ballah-”

Me: “Allah”

J: “Allah and some people’s… What are some people’s Gods called?”

Me: “Brahma, and Zeus, and Artemis (I was floundering a bit here at 0745 and dragging up my Greek heritage…) and oh, there’s loads. Maybe even as many names for Gods as names for Mamas.”

J: “And they’re all right?”

Me: “I think so. And I think it’s nice to hear other people’s stories, and listen, and collect them in your head like the Gruffalo or the Hungry Caterpillar – because we don’t fight over whether THEY’RE true, do we?”

J (giggling): “No!”

Me: “Well then. And anyway, what’s more important than being right all the time?”

J: “Being FRIENDS!”

Me: “Exactly. And besides, imagine if the world was made from an egg! Next time I make you scrambled eggs let’s look real close and see if there’s a little tiny world in our frying pan.”

(And then we got off at Basildon. The end. My A* half-GCSE in Religious Studies might have been useless for getting into 6th form 12 years ago, but I knew it would come in handy one day. Still holding out for Pythagoras though.)

Jack. Instagram/Twitter: @MxJackMonroe


Categories: Blog


  1. This is FABULOUS! What a wonderful Mumma you are! My children often ask me these sorts of questions when we’re in a que or other times when I’m not ready for them and thinking of other things!
    I can never think of the answer there and then and normally cobble something together from fragments of things remembered from school, or nuggets of info from the news etc and a large sprinkling of imagination! Now my eldest is a teenager he of course knows EVERYTHING about EVERYTHING! So the theory of Mummy being able to answer the questions is serverly being tested at the moment!

  2. Great Jack! Your son is absolutely amazing and the way You treated the whole theme is even better. You’re great a great mum! Want to know the latest by my almost-15-years-old? ‘Mum, I am a democrat’ -wow! I answered… -yes, but a democrat of the origins, like ancient Greeks’… You see? Classical basics are always update! A mum from Italy.

  3. I love this, Your son is such a sweetie & a clever one at that.., YAY for liking The Big Bang Theory!!! Would loved of known what some of your fellow commuters that of your *heavy * conversation at such an early time of the morning.

  4. Small Boy for Prime Minister, Jack too. That’d sort out the arguments. I love kid philosophy. Being friends is absolutely more important than being right. You’ve got a great kid there.

  5. So funny Jack! Wait til he’s a bit older and does phse or whatever they call it – when they get onto sex education, you’ll have some REALLY intereting conversations on the way home from school!

  6. Blimey brought back some memories for me, my daughter and I going to school and these type of questions start coming especially about God, having read about so many faiths I could come up with similar answers to you lol there was one particular conversation that will always stick out and shaped part my daughters future.
    D..Mum I need a pair of those track suit trousers with 3 strips down the leg every ones got them
    Me um right ok
    D…I saw some when I was out with Grandma not a lots of money(mentions cheap shops name) not those adidididas ones, ones with no name one, silly paying lots of money to have adidididas on the leg.
    Some 20 years later she still won’t pay silly money for things

  7. Jack, I think I want to marry you! Wow. That was so wonderful. What a great Mama you are and what a wonderful man small boy is going to grow into. Enjoy every minute of these chats with him… well, I know you do. My three are all growed up and I cant believe that it all went by so quickly. I have my own store of wonderful moments with them. Thank you so much for sharing one of yours. x

  8. Brilliant! I love your son’s questions and your answers even more. It’s always first thing in the morning. My daughter’s breakfast time forays into philosophy have included ‘How does the world work, Mummy’ and ‘How do we know what exists and what doesn’t?’ as well as the loaded ‘what happens if I grow up and marry someone and then change my mind and want to marry someone else instead?”!

  9. ‘Being friends is more important than being right.’ 🙂

    I have a strong faith, and the conversations with my children have been slightly different as a result, but we have often ended up with a simple ‘be kind’, especially with my autistic child (our very own Sheldon but without the genius). Different ways of saying ‘love one another’, perhaps. God bless, Jack. X

    • You took the words right out of my mouth. How wonderful to have such a clever and patient Mummy who can discuss such things in such an informed way. I take my hat off to you Jack!!

  10. So lovely to read your conversation with your little boy. I think he’s very lucky to have such an informed Mum and one with so much patience. It was a joy to read.

  11. Nice post, with a lot of food for thought from a little story. Love how you don’t tell him what to think, and that he’s learning to draw his own conclusions from what he sees around him, (with a bit of careful guidance, of course!)
    Strikes me that all these religious fighty types would do well to consider this viewpoint – any God worth worshipping, if there is one, would have a big grin on whatever his face is.

  12. I read this and had a few happy tears. Not to be a sentimentalist, but I just wish that more kids had parents who bothered to have these conversations. Coming from the U.S, where creationism was the norm when I was growing up, I’m just so happy to know that this boy is getting the best from his parent. You’re doing’ good, Jack. Really good.

  13. I love this, if only those silly grown ups in the middle east could think like that. BTW, at the grand old age of 47 I actually used Pythagoras’ theorem for the first time to work out what length of christmas lights to buy to go round the triangle shaped top of our porch because I could reach to measure it on my own, so not a waste of time learning it after all 🙂

  14. Really like this – so much innocent truth in it. One god but everyone calls it different names. For me it’s like a mountain we all take different paths to get to the top, some of us stop on the way and rest a bit. Some plough on, some take the long way, some focus on the mountain others look out at the view. It’s fab the way kids ask difficult questions and strange times – have it with my two a lot 😉

  15. Love this! Such a brilliant way to explain such a tricky thing to him. He’s a very lucky boy to be growing to value tolerance and variety and kindness and he’s got such a bright, inquisitive mind! One to watch I’m sure…. x

  16. This is wonderful. I love conversations with the littles. They have such interesting viewpoints and ideas. And thank you for being a mama who focuses on love and peace. How I wish there were more like you. Our world would be so much better!

    • Not so much to primary school, unless the child goes to a special school or has additional needs at a mainstream school. Lots of kids go by train and bus, but not usually on their own at 5 😉

  17. Love this, I hope I will remember the bit about the mamas when it comes to explaining it to my equally curious and fantastic 3 year old.xx

  18. This is wonderful. My boy is 16, and I remember fondly many conversations like this on the way to school.

    I think you had such a lovely way of explaining all the differences and how to accept them. Inspirational x

  19. Adorable. You are both very open minded people! It’s cool that you were able to answer that question with so much knowledge about other religions. Little J has some very interesting questions. I hope you do more 😛

  20. Lovely post, Jack. You ever thought of writing stories for children? You have the skill. You strike the right note. Also, you have a resident reader and critic! Do it quick – as they grow up, you become expert on each new age and stage, but the earlier ones fade a little.

  21. Your thoughts to your little boy fit in so well with my meanderings – I am a Christian but I hate how judgemental this makes some people. Love is the common denominator in all religions and with all people. x

  22. Maybe you can write a book with jonny! Lovely boy! I have similar conversations with my kids, for some reason mostly whilst in the car. These chats just make my heart sing, bless’em.

  23. Or, as many Quakers say, would you rather be right or be loving? On marriage: 4yo son seeing me hopping up and down with joy at US Supreme Court decision on equal marruage, shortly after Irish referendum: “What’s up, mummy?” – “A girl could only marry a boy, but now girls can marry each other and boys can marry each other!” Pause for thought. 4yo son: So can I marry you now, mummy?”

  24. Not sure you have enough gems to make a book, but I am sure there are others out there who could add their own. Put them in a book and make sure every reception class has a copy which MUST be read out loud at least once a term!

  25. Sorry for swearing on your twitter feed @everydayvoices – but when that douche face ‘Alex’ called you by your old name, I had to call him out. I apologize if you are offended.
    I am a LGBT activist but I do read your blog and I am a huge fan of yours. You’ve done nothing by try to help people improve their lives. You’ve been incredibly open and honest about your own struggles. I did not feel you deserve to be disrespected like that. You’ve said very publicly how you would like to be addressed and that should be respected and honored at all times. For him to deliberately use your old name and then criticize your parenting skills is just a shitty thing to do. (and by the way, I am very glad you cleared up the “they” thing with your interview at some paper I don’t recall- I know it’s grammatically correct, but very awkward to type)
    He’s an arsehole that needed to be called out. Best of luck to you and I love you.

  26. Fantastic…’Being Friends is More Important Than Being Right’ would make a very good children’s book…Adults could learn a lot from it too!!

  27. Hi Jack. This brought back memories of walking my son to school and our many conversations on similar lines. I love “Being friends is more important than being right” A wise child who has a wise Mama.
    Thank you. xxx

  28. Wonderful answers to his questions, especially so early in the morning, and spur of the moment. Ahh the Gruffalow and Hungry Caterpillar…my 2 year old grand-daughter loves these! 🙂

  29. I love the concept that being friends tops being right. It reminds me of a quote (author unknown): “Maturity is being in an argument and knowing that you are right, without having to prove the other person wrong.” Yup ………. friends RULE!

  30. Wise words indeed Jack! We may each use the name for God that we grew up with, but should remember that if we’d been born into another family, we might have grown up with a different name to use I agree with what Audrey says above, and you live by that principle, Jack

  31. fantastic post – really cheered me up! Kids do absolutely get it when adults don’t. I happen to be a church minister, but believe that there are many names for God, and that we should value the faith stories – science may provide us with the answers to ‘how’ but for me the faith stories give the answer to ‘why’

  32. Reminds me of Ken Robinson’s story of the kid showing her painting to the teacher and being told that “no one knows what God looks like”.

    But, the child (and the likes of dear Dave Allen) realizes that everyone can know what God looks like- at least to them.

    And while I don’t think we can exactly claim that kids hold the wisdom of the ages, if we use our countless, numbered, days to listen to them, their logic can be unassailable, cutting through some of the very worst of the knots that our damaged species has tied itself in. For example, kids know that if one of them gets to cut a cake and the other gets first choice of slice, the outcome is always fair, yet many adults find any number of justifications as to why THEY and not others deserve to both cut and choose.

    And that arrangement, and its justification in just about every media source, is why we can never get quite enough train journey thinking time to recenter our minds on essential truths…the ones that the wrapping with the crap in distracts us from.

  33. I really like your recipes and I think you are a very good writer. I also like people to get along. But I have to say that I believe there is only one God. I recognize that other people have different beliefs. But I don’t think they are all right. Jesus is my Lord and Saviour. Even though I disagree with you on this. I believe you are right when you say being friends is important. It is good to be kind to people, even if you disagree on some things. I hope this post is not offensive to you. As a Christian, I simply felt compelled to write what I believe. I thought about not writing anything at all, but honestly I feel that it is important. I am not trying to run you down. I definitely admire much of your work. I also know what it is like to not be able to feed your child the way you want to. I do wish I was a better cook when my boys were little or that I had a blog to read like yours. I’m just thankful that life is better now for you and also for me and my children.

  34. I have just recently found your blog and I can’t seem to stop reading it. Thank you for being brave enough to share and thank you for this wonderful story interjected between fantastic recipe ideas. My favourite from my five year old at about the same time in the morning was “What kind of government do we have Mama?” I wish I had taken a political science class to help me with the answers. I was much better at the “What is a soul?” question, though it was difficult in other ways. Looking forward to more reading.

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