Thursday, October 30, 2008

Politics and religion

Two things that ought not be discussed in polite company. And I do find myself biting my tongue quite frequently around here. Our town in general is fairly conservative, particularly in terms of financial and military issues. But there is also a strong religious stripe, which continues to surprise me given the fact that so many people here are associated with the largest local company (which is very science/technology/research-oriented).


I haven't exactly connected with the parents who wait for their kindergarteners in the same general area as I do. Some of it is that so many of them already know each other and so they're chatting away without any look to those around them. Of course, it also strikes me that one of the mothers I knew in passing has barely even looked at me since I had a conversation with her son that involved explaining that Scooter has two moms. (The kid was on Scooter's soccer team, had Trillian as a coach, saw us together as a family, and still wanted to know who "that girl" was.)

The realization struck me a week or so ago that my peer group around the school is the teachers. I volunteer in Scooter's classroom an hour a week. At the end of each session, the kids head out to recess, supervised by a paraprofessional. And I usually chat for a bit with Mr. Teacher and his assistant. They're among the few adults in this town where I don't worry my views will be completely at odd with theirs.

(Quick aside, since I'm easily distracted right now. Just before the school year, one of our neighbors was concerned about her eldest's placement for the year, especially after a difficult couple of years previously, teacher-wise. She said she wasn't adverse to homeschooling, but she didn't feel that God had told her to do this yet, so she was waiting. I know I missed a beat or two and then just smiled and nodded once I realized she meant this in all seriousness. Anyway...)

Today, the morning announcements included the information that there would be a mock election at the school next Tuesday. Mr. Teacher indicated to me that he did not plan on having his class participate, a combination of his feeling that the kids are a bit young--I realized that we have probably shielded Scooter from most of the commercials and he doesn't even know the significance of the names--and because of the things that had been coming out of his students' mouths.

I feel that I must share these quips with you. Remember that these are 5-year-olds. Mostly the children of highly intelligent people, usually at least one parent a scientist.

  • A girl went to Mr. Teacher to tell him that some boys had put her baby (doll) in the (toy) oven. As he was explaining that this was not the proper thing to do with a baby, pretend or real, a child popped up, "That's an abortion." As Mr. Teacher tried to interject and say that wasn't quite right and not a topic to discuss, the child added, "Barack Obama wants to kill all babies."
  • Another student explained why one must vote for McCain: "Because John McCain is the only one who's faithful to God."
  • And yet another: "Barack Obama wants to give all of my daddy's money away."
  • The reading specialist added that one of the third grade classes she visited was asked to name issues important to them. One student piped up with "Homeland Security." "What does that mean?" he was asked. His answer: "I don't know."
I know that children generally mirror their parents' beliefs. And I also hope that Scooter will come to believe much of what I do (since I generally think I'm right). But I also know that kids at this age are not very good at paraphrasing and summarizing, that they are in most cases probably parroting what they've heard, nearly verbatim.

I've laughed at these, mostly because I don't feel like crying.


Aliki2006 said...

One of my colleagues told me today that when her ten-year old daughter told another fifth grader at the cafeteria that she wanted Obama to win the fifth-grader replied: "well it doesn't matter if he wins--someone will kill him anyway."

I was depressed about that all day. I think I still am, actually.

Mouse said...

Ugh. Another thing you know the kid has picked up from an adult. It makes me shudder to think that if these are the things parents say in front of kids, what are they saying when the kids aren't around?

Lisa b said...

yeah it is the stuff you know they got from someone who should know better that kills me.

b*babbler said...

This is a really late comment... but...

holy shit! Really?!

My mind boggles. It seriously does. Especially the oven thing.