Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Kids: They're Not as Dumb as They Sometimes Look

People think kids are dumb.

They watch toddlers dash for a busy street just so their moms will chase them. They see a six year old pick his nose and, realizing he has an audience, eat the bugger. They witness a 3-year-old going ballistic in restaurants because her French fry broke in half before she could bite it in half.

What other conclusion could they come to? Kids are so dumb.

True, kids act pretty dumb sometimes. But sometimes I think they could go head to head with grownups in the logic department. Try talking your 6-year-old out of his fears, for instance. I dare you.

Johnny, 6: I can't go to sleep because I believe of ghosts.

Me: Well, even if ghosts are real, they're not bad, just stuck.

Johnny: Well I believe in wolfman's disease.

Me: There are wolfmen. But they're not bad, just furry.

Johnny: What if a robber got wolfman's disease?

Me: Then it would be easy for the police to catch him. He would look different from everybody else.

Johnny: But the thing I'm most scared of is evil cyclops aliens.

Me: I don't think God would let a species become intelligent if they were evil.

Johnny: But dust created the galaxy and God created our world.

Me: No, God created the galaxy, too.

Johnny: Oh. I didn't know he was that big. But I do believe in the curse of the mummies.

Me: Where'd you see that? In a movie?

Johnny: I've seen it lots of places.

Me: Well, let me tell you something about movie writers. They don't even believe in the curse of the mummies. They just think people would like to watch a show about it.

Johnny: But I do believe frozen dinosaurs can come back to life.

Me: I don't think so.

Johnny: But I do believe in evil trolls.

Me: Why?

Johnny: Because Santa's elves are good trolls so there must be bad trolls. Just like there are good people and there are bad people.

What was I supposed to say to that? It's my fault. I never should have told the boys there are bad people. But we were reading a book about wolves and it said that some wolves were good and some were bad.

"Oh, just like people," I said, shrugging.

And I might have mentioned that wolfman's disease is real. I was trying to prevent the next generation from being prejudiced against these poor people. All one or two of them.

But I never said anything about Santa's elves being trolls. I know that. Still, how can I argue with Johnny on this point?

I could have said, "There are no bad people. Only good people who make bad choices. Just like there are no bad trolls. Just good trolls who make bad choices.

And then Johnny would picture one of Santa's good elves breaking all the Christmas toys and saying, "Oops. It looks like I made a bad choice. My apologies."

Kids, when they really try, can convince themselves that all their fears make sense. Life would be easier for kids if they really were dumb. If they only saw what was in front of them, and not every possibility in the universe.

Example: People are watching me. Maybe I'll wave to them. Or maybe I'll eat a bugger. Or maybe I'll be attacked by an evil cyclops alien. Or maybe one of Santa's elves will make a bad choice and ruin Christmas. Maybe I'll save Christmas single-handedly because I have superpowers. Really: It's anyone's guess. But I think I'll go ahead and eat the bugger.


Anonymous mom said...

I think we have another philosphy student on our hands. Your conversations are a riot - no wonder he's so smart - you answer him like he's an adult - I love it!!! The fears are sad and never seem to leave us, so I think it's good you're trying to explain them away now.

6:54 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

a bugger would be if you were eating a mosquito

a boogie is eating a nose harvest

7:22 AM  

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