Ever been embarrassed by the unfettered and brutal truth from the mouth of a toddler? With a fresh perspective and no inhibitions, toddlers can say whatever they want, and no adult can really deny a toddler telling the truth without digging themselves into a bigger hole. What if we could harness that power to better society?
Cookie speaking too loudly, as usual: I smell gas!
Me: No, that’s not gas.
Cookie: But it’s a bad chemical smell.
Me: There is something floating around, but it’s not gas.
Cookie speaking loud enough for the entire street to hear: It’s bad perfume!
Cookie pointing at the man in front of us: It’s him! It’s coming from him!
Me: Shhh, Cookie. Not so loud. And it’s cologne, Cookie. When men wear a fragrance, it’s called cologne.
When we caught up to the poor guy at the stop light, his face was beet red. Everyone else around us tried unsuccessfully to hide their grins. I’m guessing he’s not going to bathe himself in that bad drugstore musk in the future.
When you’re older, you’ll learn that Muslims are people worship God a little bit differently than we Christians do, and because a handful of Muslims did some very bad things, lots of other people want to treat Muslims badly. In your four year-old mind, you’d call this “bullying.” Unfortunately, as you get older, you’ll learn about “discrimination,” “bigotry,” “fear-mongering,” and “hysteria.”
This is the sad part of human nature, Cookie. The human mind wants to draw similarities and see patterns in an incomprehensible world, and when we’re scared or hurt, we lash out, and those that appear different or strange are easy targets. In kindergarten and elementary school, it’s the kids with the funny names or the stutter or somehow stand out. As we get older, Cookie, it’s the people who are disadvantaged or different, who don’t look like us, who don’t believe the same way we do, or who just happens to be the target of some politician trying to gain a few votes at any cost.
Stand up to the bullies, Cookie. In the words of Martin Niemöller, speak out.
It’s only natural for all parents to think that their kids are geniuses. One moment, you’re holding a stinking poop machine that isn’t even smart enough to eat properly and can’t be trusted not to seriously injure itself. The next moment, there’s a miniature human being asking questions that can’t be easily answered.
As part of the craziness in getting you into kindergarten in New York, we had to get you tested, Cookie. IQ tests for four-year olds: absolutely, utterly, annoyingly crazy (and useless and meaningless and arbitrary). Due to a scheduling problem, your testing date was inexplicably moved up a month, and we didn’t get a chance to even show you the sample problems, let alone prep you. You were even sick on the day. Nevertheless, we told you that you were going to play games with a special teacher and dropped you off at the psychologist.
For the last year, Cookie, we sent you to a Saturday morning Chinese language class at an aftercare center near home. One hour. Full immersion. Short. Easy.
Mommy and I wanted something a little more challenging for you (you wanted something more challenging for you), so we signed you up for a three-hour weekend class in the middle of Chinatown. Unlike, the local Chinese class at the non-Chinese aftercare center, the Chinese class in the heart of Chinatown is taught in English. The teacher speaks mostly in English to teach a handful of words to kids who speak English because of the fear that parents might complain that their children won’t understand what the teacher is saying. Immersion? HAH.
Yes, Cookie, Mommy and I made a mistake. Next time, we’ll head back to Chinatown… and sign you up for an ESL class. At least that class will be taught in Chinese.