Monday, March 30, 2009
The miseducation of youth
I should be studying right now, but there's something on my mind, and it won't go away. I feel like I have a growling, angry dog pulling on the leg of my pants. He won't let go until I address him, but I have no idea what to say. "Go away, you rotten doggie!" just won't do.
Lately, I've been taking care of two girls, ages 9 and 11, once a week. I've known these girls for about four years, and love them dearly. So, when I was asked to care for them on a regular basis, I was happy to do it. Now, I've got a dilemma.
This morning, while sitting in my kitchen, the younger girl suddenly noticed that I had an Obama sign on the wall. It's been there since November, but it finally caught her attention. Perhaps it caught her attention because she's been learning new things from Mom's new boyfriend. She scrunched up her face and said, "Why do you like Obama?!" Unfortunately, I was bleary with sleep and unprepared to deal with this question, so I said, "It's too early in the morning to give you a good answer." She didn't like that, and said, "Well, I hate him." I bet if I had looked under the table, she might have been stamping her feet.
"Why do you hate the President?" I asked. "Oh, I don't. know", she said. "Well, you should know why you hate someone" was my response. She got very serious and announced, "He's giving free health care to little kids who don't deserve it and. . ." I cut her off. I then said that sometimes people decide not to talk about politics and religion because they have very different ideas and that it leads to problems. How about we try that? And so, the discussion was over.
I drove them to school, all the while thinking I had copped out. Her words about little kids echoed in my mind, making me upset and angry. Someone's been feeding this kid Rush Limbaugh-ian ideas, and it pisses me off. But to make matters worse, I know that these children are on all sorts of government aid. WIC, AFDC, Section 8 housing, and who knows what else. And here she is, spouting off nonsense about "little kids who don't deserve it." She should know that her family is exactly the type of family that Limbaugh-loving folks despise. Shouldn't she?
But, if I say something, it's highly likely that I'll never take care of these kids again. So, I said that talking about religion and politics are off limits, and I do not feel good about it.
I need to figure out what to say. I don't want to refute or shame her. The latter, sadly, would be quite easy to do. I need to say positive things that might open up their quickly closing minds. But, the thing of it is, I don't know what to say. I haven't a clue. I know how to speak to adults about these things, but kids? My mind is an unhappy blank.
The youngest girl has already pronounced me a "weirdo." However, I know they both like me, but I'm some sort of alien amongst the adults they know. If you have any suggestions, please leave a comment. I need help, and so do two little girls.
Image note: I didn't know what image to use. Did you know Dr. Seuss was also a political cartoonist?