Tuesday, July 19, 2011

World perspective of my 8-year-old

I often get this feeling during a debate where I want to yell "don't you know..." or "don't you remember", and then stop myself as I realize that no, they don't know what I know, and/or they are too young to remember what I do.

My 8-year-old said a couple of things that drove home to me just how much her view of the world can be different than mine. She's a very bright girl - but she's only 8.

Those 2 things were:

"Mommy, what's are Jesus?", and "What's 9/11?".

Now, when I was her age, I was going to a public school where most of the kids were Christian, and as an adult I live in an extremely multicultural world. Our Jewish neighbourhood is just one part of my life. I like the fact that my kids have a strong identity and are able to feel "normal" instead of constantly feeling like a minority - but I forget sometimes just how different their upbringing is from what mine was, and just how much they are living in a Jewish bubble. Until she attended a camp on the Italian side of town last summer, she had never heard of Jesus. She wasn't actually aware that Jesus was a person - she just assumed that it was the plural form of jeez, and has no idea what that was.

The second question floored me even more. We were in New York last winter, and went to Ground Zero. My older daughter knew all about 9/11. She had been a toddler when it happened, and it's part of her earliest memories. Kids at daycare and school talked about it, and she saw us watching footage on TV. My 8-year-old, though, is 3 years younger, and was born 13 months after the attacks. Even though it was still all around us, from our books to conversations, she was in her little-kid world and never clued in, preferring endless Disney programs to CNN. It never occurred to me, however, that she DIDN'T know about it until she asked me that question.


MIghty Garnel Ironheart said...

Scary thought: for kids starting university this fall the Reagan-Bush administrations ended before they were born and Bill Clinton is a name from their early childhood.

JRKmommy said...

A few more points to ponder:

I was studying political science in university when the Berlin Wall fell. Today's university students weren't born.

Those starting university would also have no memory of the handshake on the White House lawn at the start of the Oslo process. They would have been kids when it fell apart in 2000.

For a while, I was having some debates with a young Muslim mom on another board. She was born in 1989, and grew up in Mississauga. I'm sure she would have remembered September 11th - but I'm not sure that she remembers September 10th, and that's a huge issue. We have an entire generation of Arab youth who won't remember a time before 9/11, and to them it will be seen as an eternal conflict. They can't appreciate that the old fear was Communism, not Islam. They don't remember that in the summer of 2000, everyone thought that we were on the verge of a final peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians, and that the Palestinians rejected it. They don't remember that NATO went to war in the Bosnia to protect Muslims from Christians.