June 17, 2010

Sitting In A Tree

Mia is very concerned that, when she's old enough, she will not be allowed to marry her best friend. Her best friend happens to be a girl. And she very much wants to marry her best friend and live with us at home in our house, after she goes to college (still while living with us). Without any coaching by Beth or me, Mia has come up with her idea of a perfect job. Her words:

I want to be the person who tells America that they can marry whoever they want to even if they're a girl and want to marry a girl or if they're a boy and want to marry a boy because people should be able to marry whoever they love if it makes them happy.

Now, of course this is also the girl who, if you didn't know she was four and went solely on transcripts of our conversations, you might think is actually an old woman raised during the Great Depression. She seems to rival my grandparents in her concern for running out of stuff. But, that aside, I think she's on to something. And I think it's a little troublesome that a four - almost five - year old sees just how crazy society sometimes is.

I'm kind of wondering what other problems we'd solve if we asked kids to solve our problems.

Which of the world's problems do you think would be best solved by kids? What do we do to our kids to make them so cynical? Does it happen naturally or do we bake it in like some bizarre cynical gravy over time?

Posted by Chris at June 17, 2010 7:00 AM

Aw. Our daughter has the same wish. She wants to "marry Emma and have 2 babies and 2 dogs and be a ballet teacher". She actually caused a bit a problem at school because she wanted to let everyone who said girls had to marry boys was capital letter WRONG. We finally had to resort to "some people just believe that they are right and if it upsets you then you should just not talk about it with them. Maybe because you talked about it to them they will change their minds later."
It's such a hard line to walk for me since I totally agree with the wrongness. I want her to talk and challenge others but how do you convey to a 5 year old that sometimes it's just not worth the breath to argue with people who will never see your point of view? And besides, they're FIVE so hopefully by the time they are old enough to get married this won't even be an issue. I hope. *sigh
I'm not sure what other problems she could solve. If there is some kind of crisis that a full scale musical with choreography could fix, she is on that shit.
Hugs to Mia for loving everyone.

Posted by: tulip at June 17, 2010 8:14 AM

//What do we do to our kids to make them so cynical?//

School. 5 year olds enter the school system with a deep, passionate desire to learn. They are naturally open minded and inquisitive. They have taught themselves to walk and talk, and they question everything.

By second grade they hate school, don't like reading because they associate it with school, and have started forming cliques with their friends and treating those outside the clique poorly.

Some kids manage to avoid the negative outcomes, some parents manage to dissociate education and the negatives of school enough to keep the kids interested in learning. But the bottom line is that 98% of kids entering the school system are happy. By 2nd grade probably half of them aren't. We are doing it wrong.

Posted by: COD at June 17, 2010 8:38 AM

Interesting that you should ask "What do we do to our kids to make them so cynical?" as I have been wrestling with this question a lot of late. I am very cynical. I fuss and grump about stuff all of the time and now I see my 6 year old son picking up my bad attitude and it breaks my heart :( I wonder if I have done this to him, or if he would have been this way anyway. On the other hand, my daughter is the cheeriest person on planet Earth. If she were a Disney cartoon, she would have birds and other woodland creatures following her around everywhere! And this is a souped-up version of my husband's attitude toward life. So, nature or nurture? I have NO idea.

Posted by: Elizabeth at June 17, 2010 8:51 AM

I think that the world bakes it into them along the way. Some earlier than others.

As I flew over the Atlantic looking at the shores of many lands, the ocean and even the continuous clouds of the volcano, I thought that although there are many bad people, and bad things in the world, I choose to believe that there are more kind and good people than not.

Then it hit me. I feel that because I have made a choice. If I didn't choose to believe this, it would be very easy to believe in the bad.

Okay, I know this is long winded and almost nonsensical answer, but forgive me, I am still suffering from jet-lag!

Posted by: Maribeth at June 17, 2010 9:11 AM

I believe it's a mix. As a child of a very negative woman it's far too easy for me to see everything as doom and gloom, but in my heart that's not me, it's not natural for me, it's just what my mother has taught me. I don't believe a child born an optimist can be dragged down by a parent to a degree where being negative is the natural thing, they'll always bounce back to their natural state when the overbearing parent has less influence in their life.

I was too harsh in my comment yesterday, I let a handful of rude and arrogant people cloud my vision and speak for American's as a whole. As hard as it can be to admit sometimes when some arrogant US politician is throwing his or her weight around, I know that Americans are undeniably the politest people I have ever met. Behide those mouthy gobshites are the people like Mia who have hearts of gold and the strength to speak up when things just aren't fair. Mia teaches people like me not to be so stupid to believe a few mouthy people speak for the millions.

We need to take a step back and join the children in viewing the wider picture rather than getting stuck on one little detail, quite often when the wider picture is viewed that one little detail doesn't hold the importance it once did.

Posted by: Leah at June 17, 2010 11:14 AM

My daughter and I were driving in town a couple years ago and we passed some "Yes On 8" people waving sings on a corner (Prop 8 is California's gay marriage ban). She asked about it and I explained what a yes vote for 8 would mean. She scowled and said bluntly, "That sucks".

I try not to bake my cynicism into my kids. I want them to believe they can make anything happen. My daughter will be 11 this September and I know, just know, that she is hoping for an invitation to Hogwarts. It breaks my heart to have to tell her, but I'm mentally composing a letter letting her know that there certainly is magic in the world, even if there is no Hogwarts, and that oftentimes we have to make our own.

I hope my, or the next, generation can solve some of the world's sticky problems by believing that magic can be made when the will is there.

Posted by: Brooke at June 17, 2010 11:27 AM

My kids have solved the problem of feeding the world's hungry dogs by throwing cheerios at them. Next on the agenda: global warming.

Closing arguments yesterday in the CA Supreme Court case to determine whether Prop 8 is constitutional. It sounds like the Plaintiff (Pro same-sex marriage) kicked ass. But the defense will appeal and it will go to the U.S. Supreme court. Keeping my fingers crossed for Mia (and everyone in the country).

Posted by: beta dad at June 17, 2010 11:56 AM

I don't know . . . at 4 I wanted to marry MY best friend, who also happened to be my cousin.

I think WAR would best be solved by kids. My boys constantly encourage time outs, ignoring each other, finding something better to do, and working it out.

I think cynicism is naturally occuring as well as baked in by well-intentioned parents in the name of sharing their morals, values and giving their child a foundation.

Posted by: Mindy at June 17, 2010 1:35 PM

Love it. This child will go far.

Posted by: Katherine at June 17, 2010 2:49 PM

Tell Mia and her friend they can always move up here to Boston.

Posted by: Karen at June 17, 2010 4:07 PM

I think it's the whole "you get what you get and you don't throw a fit" thing that applies so greatly when it comes to what color cup they are given, but I wonder if it teaches 'em they need to sit down and shut up rather than speak their mind.

Or maybe I'm just hungry and reading too much into it.

Seriously though, I think kids could solve the environment/energy issues. I bet they could.

Posted by: sarah at June 17, 2010 4:46 PM

Put them in charge of this oil crisis nonsense. I'm sure they would simply say that Tony Hayward needs to pay whatever it takes to get this mess fixed. And when he says, "I can't answer that question"...well, you know that no toddler is going to rest until they get an answer to every question they have!

Posted by: Stephanie at June 17, 2010 6:01 PM

Kids have an innocence lost. Things are simple with them. Do right, don't be a jerk, hurt people, etc. My son is 14 and his thinking is basic and kind still on how to treat others. He cannot understand why people hurt and do nasty stuff.

I was running errands with my son today and was waiting for the one parking spot next to Hallmark with my blinker on waiting for this spot. Some jerk pulled right in and took it. I about blew my head off. Harley calmly told me that dude was a jerk, bad and let's go Mom. End of story, while I blew smoke and wanted to knock the guys' head off.

School. Kids start telling each other how to think, act and what each other should be concerned about. Kids seem to grow up too quickly and I feel the challenges are greater.

War. Kids see this clearly. We fight, shoot, bomb and people die on both sides. We all bleed and grieve the same.

Posted by: One Mom's Opinion at June 17, 2010 10:47 PM

This reminds me of the whole romantic movement and how "the child is the father of the man" and all that, and that children are magical and closer to God...and I think even though science might see it differently, I still find that easier to believe than the rationalist argument.

Posted by: Heather at June 18, 2010 4:30 AM

This reminds me so much of the Moxy Früvous song, The Kid Song. Ben isn't old enough to tell me how he'd fix the world, but until he is and convinces me otherwise I'll vote for Mia to be in charge.

Posted by: Jeanne at June 20, 2010 8:13 AM