This is a conversation that I had with my five year old over the weekend. My lines are in italics, and I tell you this because the 5 year old sounds much wiser than I in what follows – you may mistake him for the adult.
“Mummy, why do we have an attendance cup at school?”
“I’m not sure, what is the attendance cup?”
“The class with most children at school every week wins it in assembly.”
“Oh, OK, so is that a bad idea or a good one?”
“Well. It is not fair. Children cannot help it if we are poorly because we are only children.”
“Maybe sometimes children don’t come into school even though they aren’t poorly, and if they want to win the cup their mummy might bring them to school.”
“But mummy [frustrated] we are only children. It is not our fault. And, why do we get fruit cards?”
“What is a fruit card?”
“At lunch time, if everyone on your table has fruit or vegetables in their lunchbox, then the dinner ladies give your table a fruit card to say ‘well done’ but [even more frustrated], we don’t make our lunch boxes because we are only children. It’s just not fair.”
“But I guess most children have fruit in their lunch boxes?”
“Sarah and Mathew NEVER do [exacerbated] . They have yoghurt. They think that is fruit, because it has pictures of fruit on it. But it’s not fruit. It just tastes fruity. Mummy, it’s not fair.
“OK, OK, what would be fair [trying not to laugh]?”
“Well, maybe if there was something we could try to win in a proper way. Like a running race. Then we could really try. And then if we didn’t win then that would be fair, because we could have all tried. And we could practice. Yes, we could have races. That would be a fair way to win things.”
[stunned silence]…..[and then] “Erm, that’s a pretty good idea”.
“Mummy, it’s just fair.”
In that short exchange my son picked apart a nationwide attendance policy, the paucity of education on nutrition, and how perhaps young children don’t find competitive sport horrendously soul destroying – after all, it’s a pretty fair way to decide who get the prizes.
Has your child given you any profound insights into life lately? Let me know!