One of M’s homework assignments this week was to read an issue of Time for Kids and answer some comprehension questions. The issue focused on the political conventions, which I thought was a great idea. But then I looked at it, and it was pretty uninformative. I thought that they might have a little chart about where the two major parties stand on some major issues. Instead, they talked about the purpose of political conventions. I started getting a little pissy, honestly, as I read the “kid reporter” pieces. Actual quotes from the kid reporters:
Kid among Republicans: “Clint Eastwood gave a speech. He talked to an empty chair, pretending it was President Obama. Eastwood made the crowd laugh.”
Umm, yeah. True, I guess. But it seems strange to mention this and not explain anything else about this speech.
Kid among Democrats: “Mary J. Blige, Foo Fighters and Earth, Wind & Fire were expected to perform, adding to the party atmosphere.”
Annoying tense, since in the first paragraph it said that the kid had already attended the convention. Also, how many kids even know who these people are? Wait–do anyof these kids know who Clint Eastwood is? And also, why are we talking about actors and singers when we’re supposed to be talking about the political process? Argh. . . .
M’s last question to answer was, basically, if you could vote, for whom would you vote and why? “Wait,” I said, “In any of this material, did they say anything about what the two guys actually think about anything?” I asked. “A little bit,” M answered vaguely. “I think a lot of kids aren’t going to know one way or the other, if they’re just trying to decide from this.” I was exasperated, but I just walked into the kitchen to do dishes.
“So Mom?” M called. “Why are you voting for [So-and-So]?”
“Oh, no you don’t,” I pounced. “I’m not going to feed you the answers. I’ll help you find something to compare and contrast them yourself.” With some help from Cute W, I found one of those quiz sites, I Side With.com, for her to fill out her answers and find her chosen candidate based on issues. Of course, that was funny, because she ended up agreeing most with the same candidate that Cute W and I ended up choosing. And after she was done, I peeked at the analysis and found two issues that she indicated she felt most strongly about–one of them that I’d ranted about recently, but the other mystified me. I told Cute W, and apparently he’d recently discussed the other one. So even though I’d tried not to answer her homework for her, we’d already thoroughly molded her elementary-school mind, at least until adolescent rebellion kicks in.
Anyway, the whole thing made me spend the rest of day pondering how there should be a really good source of news for kids that doesn’t totally condescend to them, but that can also shield them a little bit. This was partly because I’d just read a horrifying story about girls getting married extra early in Niger because of hunger that I’d wanted to show the girls, except that the references to consummation scared me off. Does anyone else know of a website or a really good quality publication that’s current events for kids that’s somewhat objective and slightly sex- and violence- sanitized without being stupid?
Speaking of which, I do like the idea of the girls being interested in the news, and I’ve shown them that one of our favorite magazines, The Week, has very short little news snippets that are entertaining. Okay, okay, there are a few, once in a while, that are mildly risque, but it’s usually little stories of a wedding ring getting found in a dump after being lost for 60 years. Ugh, not lately. The other day J came running up to me with a huge smirk on her face, “Oh, Mom, Mom, you have got to see this.” I could tell, right away, that it was trouble. Sure enough, it was a photo of Prince Harry, you know, that famous one of him cupping his privates. Possibly I should just wait and ease up on the whole current events thing.