Sunday, April 14, 2013

Does a Five-Year Old Really Understand What He's Pledging? Apparently Not My Kid.

Act # 104:  Challenge our children to think for themselves.

Sue me.  I challenge my kid to think critically.  You wouldn't believe the sheer brilliance of an untouched, inquisitive mind with minimal preconceived human notions.  So when I was late the other day, and walked into assembly to drop him off for school, and he suddenly threw his backpack down, put his right hand on his heart, and started reciting the pledge of allegiance, I knew we had some golden dinner-time conversation ahead of us.

Now I don't have a problem that he recites the pledge of allegiance.  It's kinda cute, actually - little guy using such big words.  But as a parent, I wanted to ensure two things:  1.)  That my son knew what the heck he was doing and saying; and 2.)  That he never felt forced to do something he didn't believe in.  Thus, later that night, we began a conversation that was so utterly confusing, convoluted, and way harder for him to grasp than the notion of an infinite all-loving entity that he couldn't see (a.k.a "God").   Following his own lead, we've been talking religion pretty intensely for the past year or so.  Much to my surprise, it's been remarkably easy for him to slowly come to his own age-appropriate awareness and understanding of the concept of a higher power.  The Pledge of Allegiance, well, not so.  Here's sort of how it went:

Definitions for a Five-Year Old:
Pledge = stuff daddy uses to clean
Allegiance = like the love you have for your family, mama?
Flag - wavy thing with stars
United States of America = bigger than Berea, bigger than Kentucky
Republic = like the rules we follow at home such as: you don't have to finish your plate, but if you don't, you can't have dessert
Nation =  (see United States of America)
God = God is everywhere
Liberty = free to play Skylanders on weekends
Justice = everyone has the same number of toys!

The Real Pledge:
I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

Five-year old translation:
If I clean my family with a flag somewhere bigger than Kentucky, I'll get dessert.  God will then let me play Skylanders all weekend and he'll give toys to all the kids of the world.

Mom's translation for five-year old:
Love people, no matter where they are from. Sometimes we might not all get along.  And we don't have to all think the same way.  Don't ever be afraid to speak up, but always do so with kindness. The world would be such a happy place if all the kids of the world had the same number of toys.  You can do little things right now to help make this happen.  We should all do things to make this happen.

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