Monday, March 12, 2007

Kid Logic

From This American Life, the best radio program in history.

It all began at Christmas two years ago when my daughter was four years old. And it was the first time that she had ever asked about, you know, what did this holdiday mean? And so I explained to her that this was celebrating the birth of Jesus. And she wanted to know more about that, so we went out and bought a kids' Bible and had these readings at night, and she loved them. Wanted to know everything about Jesus.

So we read a lot about his birth and his teaching, and she would ask constantly what that phrase was. And I would explain to her that it was "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." And we would talk about those old words and what that all meant.

And then one day we were driving past a big church, and out front was an enormous crucifix. And she said, "Who is that?" I guess I had never really told that part of the story. So I had to say, "Well, that's Jesus. I forgot to tell you the ending. He ran afoul of the Roman government. This message that he had was so radical and unnerving to the prevailing authorities at the time that they had to kill him. They came to the conclusion that he would have to die. That message was too troublesome."

It was about a month after that Christmas. We had gone through the whole story of what Christmas meant. It was about mid-January, and her pre-school celebrates the same holidays as the local schools. They had Martin Luther King Day off.

So I knocked off work that day and decided we'd play. And I took her out to lunch. We were sitting in there, and right on the table where we happened to plop down was the Arts section of the local paper. And there big as life was a huge drawing by a ten year-old kid from the local schools of Martin Luther King.

And she said, "Who's that?" And I said, "Well, as it happens, that's Martin Luther King, and he's why you're not in school today. We're celebrating his birthday. This is the day we celebrate his life." And she said, "So who was he?" I said, "Well, he was a preacher." And she looked up at me and said, "For Jesus??"

And I said, "Yeah, actually he was. But there was another thing that he was really famous for, which was that he had a message." And you're trying to say this to a four year-old. This is the first time they ever hear anything, so you're just very careful about how you phrase everything.

So I said, "He was a preacher and he had a message." She said, "Well what was his message?" I said, "Well, he said that you should treat everybody the same no matter what they look like." She thought about that for a minute. And she said, "Well that's what Jesus said." I said, "Yeah, I guess it is. I never thought about it that way, but yeah. That is sort of like 'Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.' "

And then she thought for a minute and looked up at me and said, "Did they kill him too?"

Resolution: Think like a kid more often.


Anonymous Susie said...

I had never heard that story. I love it. Thanks for sharing.

Bless your heart.

7:06 AM  

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