It was years ago that I packed up my daughters to see the Arizona Diamondbacks play. And because I am naturally curious, I decided to learn something with this trip:
Question: how many questions will a 10-year-old and 8-year-old girl ask during a five hour excursion?
I am not making this up. I guess they get their curiosity from me.
Their innocent questions ranged in topic from the roof of the stadium (“Why can’t OUR roof do that?”) to the line in the bathroom (“Why can’t we use the men’s room? There’s no line!”) to the actual game (“If a ball is called an infield fly by the umpire and the wind then carries it so that it falls uncaught in foul territory, what is the correct ruling?”).
They were very precocious kids.
When we finally arrived home, I tallied up the score and voiced my own exasperated question: how could two little girls be filled with so many questions?
The answer this time came from the youngest: “But a kid has to know things!”
And she was right. How else will a child know things, but from her parents?
So now I voice more than a little exasperation when some ridiculous news story breaks about some public figure doing something hideous, and I hear the inevitable shout from countless parents:
“I don’t want to have to explain to my child what THAT means!” with THAT being Miley Cyrus, or a Kardashian tweet, or worse still, the shenanigans of trusted leaders of our country.
I get it. If you’re my age, you remember this going down when Monica Lewinsky failed to get her dry cleaning picked up. It’s uncomfortable trying to explain why the phrase “hiking in the Appalachians” is so hilarious. How does anyone explain a Carl’s Jr. commercial to a 5 year old? “Well, honey, I guess Paris really loves that hamburger. And that car.”
The only way to avoid this is to shield your child from all news shows, news magazines, and for the love of God, no televised sporting events. This will cut out all innocent questions about why a pill makes a man be able to throw a football through a tire or makes people want to take baths on a beach all of a sudden, and you’ll be spared the agony of explaining any GoDaddy commercial.
But then we’re abandoning our primary job, which is to explain the world to our children. If WE don’t explain John Edwards to our children in an age-appropriate manner, who will? If WE don’t give proper context to Teen Mom, who will? If we don’t I’m not sure who will, but I will bet that you may not like the conclusions drawn.
You can’t swing a lying politician without hitting a scandal; you can’t change the channel without hitting an explicit commercial; and the Kardashian family is the only thing that will survive a nuclear holocaust.
It makes you wonder if anyone can keep their pants on.
But I can tell you this: if we don’t take advantage of these teachable moments, where we as parents explain why it’s silly to tweet pictures of your rear end or wrong to cheat on your wife with your college-age intern, there will be no one left who understands why you shouldn’t.
• Ahwatukee Foothills resident Elizabeth Evans can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.