Sunday, January 19, 2003

Most adults don’t get it. How do you explain to an eleven year-old?
Eldest’s class (6th grade) had special activity today at school about the elections. They split up into groups and each group had to prepare a presentation about a different group of parties. Class students who belong to a special interest group about current affairs led the groups. Eldest’s group had to present the case of the Arab parties. Eldest said she found she couldn’t contribute anything, because she knew nothing about the Arab parties. When she told me about this, I pointed out that it’s difficult to throw the Arab parties into one group without making inaccurate generalizations about them.

Then we started talking about “the situation”, going a bit further than talking about the fear of terrorist attacks, this time. When she made some rather simplistic statements, I tried to point out the complexities. She was frustrated. The conversation had started with her asking me for whom I mean to vote. I tried to explain what had happened that caused me to change my choice of party from last time. Difficult. I had to keep it concise because I didn’t know at which point she would lose interest. I couldn’t leave her with a one-sided view, either. I didn’t want to persuade her or to indoctrinate her. So I tried to telegraphically explain things from other viewpoints as well.

The end of the conversation had me explaining why the checkpoints were necessary and then, so she could understand how it feels on the receiving end, asking her to imagine a situation whereby her weekly trip to the Music Center in Yaffo (which she recently forfeited), would take three or four hours each way, instead of ¾ hour and she would have to go through checkpoints each way, checked by strange, hostile soldiers, shouting at her in a language she couldn’t understand, pointing weapons at her. At this point she abruptly decided it was time for bed.

We had spent the evening visiting yet another optional middle school with her. The checkpoints dilemma was about the most frustration she could take and she retreated into bed with the ever-reassuring magical world of Harry Potter books. She’s reading them again. I thought we’d seen the last of them after the twenty-second time she read them when she announced she’d finally had enough. Obviously not. I can understand her. It’s nice when you can easily tell who the good guys are and who the bad guys are. Hey, in Harry Potter, you can even tell from the names.