Tag Archives: children

Children saying scary things

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My daughter (10), elated that she got into the class she wanted and avoided the all-girls class: ‘All-girls classes suck!’

Me, naively: ‘Why?’

My studious 10-year-old: ‘Because they’d be all prissy and there’d be no boys to fall in love with.’

Ladies and gentlemen, the main purpose of public schooling, right there… in case there was ever any doubt.

(And I say this sarcastically, of course, because when the knowledge content has been thinned out and dumbed down beyond recognition, what else is left but socialization…)

Podge and his book from the sky – A fable

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Once upon a time there was a badger. We’ll call him Podge, because that’s what his friends called him. Podge was an intrepid and adamant little badger and he liked to roam the neighborhood at length, looking for fellow creatures to pester – or to snack on.

On one of his nocturnal foraging trips, Podge went a little further than usual and pretty soon came across an animal he had never seen before. An animal so different from himself.

‘What a strange animal… !’ Podge thought and drew closer. ‘Too large to eat and very funny-looking.’

In fact, this animal was so bizarre that, in the dark, Podge couldn’t really tell which end was the head.

‘Hi,’ he said. ‘My name is Podge and I’m a badger. What are you?’

At first there was no answer, so he tried again.

‘Hi,’ he repeated. ‘My name is Podge and I’m a badger. What are you?’

The strange animal stirred.

‘Why are you talking to my tail?’

‘Oh, sorry,’ Podge said and came trotting around to the other end.

And indeed, upon closer inspection, he was now able to make out a long, thin snout and a pair of ears.

‘I have never seen an animal like you. What are you, exactly?’ Podge asked.

‘What do you mean? I am me. I am who I am. Do you want to be friends?’

‘I guess, but… what are you?’ he insisted.

‘I don’t understand. Why do I have to be something in particular?’

‘Well, we’re all something. We all have to be something.’

‘Why?’

‘Just to know what we are. To know where we belong.’

‘ Well, I may not know what I am, but I still know who I am. I’m me. Isn’t that enough?’

‘But… but all the creatures in the world need to know what they are!’ Podge spluttered.

‘Why?’

‘I’m not exactly sure, but I am very pleased to know what I am and what everything around me is. I know what is food, friend, or foe. It’s easier to play with things when you know what they are.’

‘Hm,’ the other creature said incredulously and walked on, snout to the ground.

‘Aren’t you curious what I am?’

‘You’re someone who calls his friends thing names.’

But Podge didn’t hear.

‘I’m a badger,’ he pronounced proudly and confidently.

‘Says who?’

‘Everyone I know.’

‘Badger,’ muttered the creature. ‘That’s just a sound. It means nothing to me. But if you’re fond of this sound, so be it, you will be the Badger.’

‘And you? What are you?’

‘I already told you. I’m me. Why are you so obsessed with categories?’

Podge went home and found it extremely hard to fall asleep. It bothered him. He did not know where to place this creature he had met. And what should he call it? The following night he went back determined to get to the bottom of this mystery. He packed his sacred book and a flashlight. For hours on end he looked at the creature, looked at himself, then leafed back and forth through his book. It was morning already. The sun was up. He was getting tired. Finally, he exclaimed:

‘I know! I know what you are! You’re an aardvark!’ He was so relieved.

‘You think so?’

‘I know so!’

‘How do you know?’

‘Because my book says so, look!’ he said and pointed to a picture on a page that said “Aardvarks”.

‘And how does the book know I’m an aardvark? Maybe they just had to come up with a name and didn’t know any better.’

‘Oh, no, no, no. Not a chance. This book knows everything there is to know. It’s a magical book. And it’s always right.’

‘Really? How do you know that?’ the aardvark asked again.

‘Well, because this book came to us directly from the sky!’

‘No kidding…’

‘Yes, yes. I found it myself one morning on the forest floor. There was nobody else around, and it’s too heavy for our birds to carry. So, it must have fallen from the sky!’

‘Hm,’ the creature muttered again and tried to sniff out some ants.

‘You eat ants! Perfect, that’s perfect. You’re a good aardvark!’

‘How do you know I’m a good aardvark?’

‘Because that’s just what my book says you’re supposed to eat!’

‘I also eat cucumber,’ the aardvark replied.

‘Oh no, you really shouldn’t!’ Podge retorted with a worried look on his face.

‘Why not?’

‘Because my book says nothing about cucumbers. That means you’re probably not allowed to eat them. Oh boy, why do you have to eat cucumbers? What is wrong with you? It’s so unnatural.. You should eat termites!’

‘Hm,’ the aardvark said. ‘I had no idea there was something wrong with me until just now. But I do eat termites rather frequently,’ he apologized.

‘Oh, good!’

‘I’m curious,’ the aardvark inquired. ‘Do you always do what the book says?’

‘Oh yes, always!’

‘And what does your book say about badgers?’

‘A badger is a short-legged nocturnal omnivore,’ Podge read solemnly.

‘Nocturnal, huh? Then how come you are up and about after daybreak?’ the aardvark wanted to know.

Podge blushed, felt guilty and fell silent. He picked up his things and scurried home to sleep on it.

‘What a strange animal… !’ the aardvark thought. ‘He walks around at night with only one book and a tiny flashlight, yet claims to know what everything is…’

Quote of the day

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On sex education:

“There is no sound reason, of any sort or kind, for concealing facts when talking to children. Their questions should be answered and their curiosity satisfied in exactly the same way in regard to sex as in regard to the habits of the fishes, or any other subject that interests them. (…)

The child who is told what he wants to know, and allowed to see his parents naked, will have no pruriency and no obsession of a sexual kind. Boys who are brought up in official ignorance think and talk much more about sex than boys who have always heard this topic treated on a level with any other. (…) All ignorance is regrettable, but ignorance on so important a matter as sex is a serious danger. (…)

Speaking not only from theory, but from practical experience, I am convinced that complete openness on sexual subjects is the best way to prevent children from thinking about them excessively, nastily or unwholesomely, and also the almost indispensable preliminary to an enlightened sexual morality.”

Bertrand Russel – Our Sexual Ethics (first published in 1936!)

Child’s play

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A boy drags an empty bag through the sand.

He tied it at the end of a rope.
The wind blows into it, swelling it, ruffling it,
making it float and then
nearly ripping it out of his hand.

The bag is as transparent and light as this boy’s soul.
Soul, boy, breath, wind blowing…

Later, when it’s full of sand
It won’t fly anymore.

Questions

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Setting: Catholic religion class at school.

Characters: New teacher – a man. A bunch of 9-year-olds.

Open discussion about covenants. (Based loosely on recollection, don’t shoot the messenger!)


Girl in my daughter’s class, with genuine curiosity: Why are all the priests men? Why are there no women priests?

Teacher, gently: Well, you see, Jesus was a man, and his apostles were men, and…

Several girls in my daughter’s class: But his mother was a woman!

Teacher, full of kindness: Yes, but she could not have brought Jesus into the world without a heavenly Father…

Red-haired girl: He couldn’t have been born without a mother, either.

Teacher, softly: Yes, you’re right… but, maybe, you know, if some priests were women, then the men in church would stop paying attention to God and stare at the pretty priest…

My daughter, mumbling to herself: But the same can be true the other way around. If the priest is handsome…

Boy seated next to my daughter, searching for a solution: Maybe men are just uglier than women!

Red-haired girl: But if the women were really ugly, could they be priests then?

My daughter, musing after class: What if all the priests were women? Then there wouldn’t be any male priests to tempt… 🙂


(Ah, the dilemmas, quandaries and predicaments that arise when children are allowed to think freely. 🙂 Which, thankfully, they are.)

The Remains of The Day

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timid spring.

the careless beauty of my children romping in the woods today,

sharp, colorful, against the greening gray backdrop,

gathering twigs for a “bonfire” but first washing them in the tumbles of water or

stacking them one upon another and into bridges

alongside the brook where they were leaping, looking for frogs;

huge stones splashing in that murky fluid, one foot deep, and up bursting fountains of light,

their voices rippling across the clearings,

their giggles, their eyes flickering – light, love

shooting out of them like glittering spearheads through the trees, shouting, climbing, jumping!

what sweet, suffocating melancholy; soft warm fluff settling heavy on my soul,

my soul – itself by now the peaceful glowing aftermath of a fire,

dilated and silent, with only the crackling of cooling cinder

and water trickling on nearby, my soul

suffused with nothing but

clarity

yes, the quiet serenity of the desire to embrace life, the world,

the sizzling beauty of raw earth sprouting, of budding leaves and yellow and pink flowers,

of young lives so thick with promise, of souls so nimble, of days so limpid!

my children. my gift. my promise – to them:

a love so full, so simple, so complete.

a love absolute.

don’t hold me. you’ll lull me back into nothingness.

don’t hold me…

7 Reasons I Am Eager To Go Back To School (My Son’s Version)

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1. To see my teacher again. She’s pretty.

2. To learn new and interesting stuff (hopefully about animals).

3. To meet my friends.

4. Less time to be nagged by mom.

5. Less time to be nagged by my younger sister.

6. I want to become a natural scientist.

7. I want to become a natural scientist and make films and pictures of wild animals and show them on TV.

10 Reasons I Love The Summer Vacation (My Son’s Version)

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1. Sleep

2. Sleep

3. More sleep

4. Cartoons

5. Cartoons

6. More cartoons

7. Sun, sand, water, ice cream

8. Sun, rocks, water, ice cream

9. Sun, grass, water, ice cream

10. Reading, LEGO, board games, trees, voyages of discovery, pebbles and insects (except mosquitoes!).

Laughing stock

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My daughter (2yrs. 7 months) just chose a profession.

I was putting nose drops into her nostrils, an action which – as was to be expected – led to a certain amount of hysterical yelling and rivers of tears rolling down her cheeks.

Me:

“Lady, you sure have a nice pack of loudspeakers on you! People can hear you all the way to the stadium… I think you’ll be a soprano when you grow up.”

Her (quick at repartee):

“Nooooo.”

Me:

“Oh, really, then what are you going to be?”

Her (as if, ‘duuh, mom, that is soooo obvious‘):

“A clown!”

I think she is well on her way.

PS:

Oh, and my son, who dreads blood but wants to be a veterinarian, was quite concerned yesterday when I complained about feeling lonely. He got so emotional, he actually allowed me to play with his stuffed elephant while he’s in school. Like, ‘Geez, mom, use your brain! You’ve got all these toys to keep you company…’

You see, I already live in a circus. Right there, just off the rails, in the mothers’ compound…

Sandy Hook Elementary

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There is evil in the world. The devil walks among us. The government cannot control the minds of its citizens, some of which are obviously deranged. But the government can and should control the means they can use to commit gruesome acts of violence.  Senseless mayhem of these proportions is only possible with powerful guns.

The children of Sandy Hook Elementary School are the unnecessary martyrs of a world centered around violence and a twisted sense of self-reliance. A primitive world, where children learn to shoot weapons before they grow pubic hair. A world where children learn what it is to be shot at, or threatened at gunpoint at an age where they can hardly process it. Which only feeds into the paranoia, the sense of insecurity and the never-ending arms race. You watch footage of the police descending on that place and it looks like the country is waging civil war on itself.

Lord, have mercy on those poor devastated parents and all the rest of us shocked bystanders. The souls of the executed children will be caroling in Heaven this year…