Wednesday, October 13, 2010

It's nearing the end of fall break for the kiddo, and the living with him is quite the adventure.

Best way to bribe him into cleaning his room, without him erupting into "I'm too tired" or "I heard a strange noise in my room; I'm frightened" or"___________________ (fill in your favorite excuse)" is to predicate being able to see his floor on his getting dessert.  He'll do anything for dessert.  I'd pass that on to his teachers at school, but they'd most likely be afraid of the possible sugar rush effects that would come later in the day, so dessert only works at night, because I really don't mind if he talks my ear off 'til pajama time.  The latest tales have been all about Norman the lone wolf and his escapades as the alpha of his own pack.  Exhortations to the little guy to write his stories down or at least draw some pictures fall on deaf ears: he is thoroughly steeped in an oral tradition of his own making.

His talk continues on shortly after he wakes, if he doesn't have his nose in a book for an extended length of time.  Yesterday it included props at the breakfast table - a small wooden crane he'd found when he was cleaning his room became an oil rig that fell off the edge of the table after a blowout.  "Where'd it go?" I asked him.  "Deeeep into the water," he said in an ominous tone, alerting me to the fact that the table was a now-blown-to-hell platform, and the space all around it was the Gulf - which, in imaginary world terms, would mean we were now walking around in air tainted with oil.  Great thought to have at 8 in the morning.

Then, on the way to his mini-camp, the little guy asked as we passed Sophie B. Wright School, "Mom, a lot of brown people go there, don't they?"

"Yes, they do, honey."

"Why is that?"

"Too many people have it in their heads that it is somehow an inferior school, because they associate it with the brown people - and too many people think that brown people are inferior, which they are not. At all."

(In fact, a couple of folks I know who have worked there say it really is getting better over there, even if they don't let the public know too much about when their board meetings are.  I'd think they'd want to be more open about their successes and their inner workings.)

A pause, and I can feel him mulling that over in the backseat.

"And you should know, 'cause you're going to school with brown people," I said.  "Are they any different from you just because their skin color is different?"

"No, they're not," he said, and we got out of the car, a slight contemplative look on his face until he got to the camp room.  On to the new day...but knowing him, the kid'll be asking me about it again, and who knows when.

All of this before 9 AM.

How do you explain to a seven-year-old the centuries of prejudice that leads up to his observations that not everyone is treated equally?  Because I try and I feel like I'm younger than he is, that I'm ashamed of the human race that we're both a part of, and that I, too, need something like dessert as a motivator for at least touching upon why things are so screwed up for us socioeconomically.

To hell with dessert.  I need a drink.

1 comment:

Kelly said...

I try so hard to nonchalantly navigate those sticky topics (recently I found myself talking about various Native American tribes and genocide to my five-year-old. Smallpox anyone?). It sounds like you did great and better he get the right answers now than the wrong ones later.