Thursday, January 28, 2010


As my kids get older, they’re starting to make some pretty interesting observations – and they’ve got me thinking. (Don’t misunderstand me; most of what gets said around here is sheer and utter nonsense. No, seriously – silly is HUGE at the moment, with nonsensical responses to my questions being occasion for screams of laughter from both of them.)

But in the odd moments of sanity, they’ve made a few very astute comments lately. Here’s a conversation that went down the other day between Charlie (six and half) and me.

Me: did you return your (school) library book?

Charlie: Yes, I dropped it in the box in the classroom.

Me: If you drop it in a box in the classroom how do they know that you’ve returned it?

Charlie: Ms. A (the librarian) has it in her computer.

Me: I see.

Charlie: In fact, Ms. J (classroom teacher) keeps telling me that I have a book called Mind Your
Manners, which I don’t.

Me: Oh. So what do you tell her?

Charlie: I say I don’t have it.

Me: And what does she say?

Charlie: She says I’m in the computer for it so I should look for it at home. You know, I think that’s brainwashing. Trying to convince someone of something they know not to be true.

I laughed hard at this. Why? Because he’s absolutely right. If you’d met my son, you could be pretty sure that he would never voluntarily check out a book about manners from the library (!) – and in fact he doesn’t have it. But what got me thinking is that most of us grown ups would have had the exact same response as Ms. J. It’s the same line of reasoning as telling a kid, ‘You can’t possibly be hungry, you just ate your lunch!’ I, for one, am definitely guilty of this.

So is all child-rearing a form of benevolent brainwashing? As humans we don’t innately want to share, say ‘excuse me’, keep our thoughts and hands to ourselves, etc. These are learned behaviours. How many times have we said to our kids, ‘and what do you say?’ (looking for the elusive please or thank you)? Brainwashing! Wash your hands after using the washroom – brainwashing! I’m starting to think that parenting is inherently unethical.

On the other hand, maybe it’s retribution. After all, they do torture us with the sleep deprivation and mental anguish….


  1. little guy you've got there!!! He has a point...isn't it funny how, as adults, we try to think of the most complicated answer to things when really the simple mind of a kid will suffice?!


  2. I love this blog and I totally agree!