Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Explaining NPR

Many mornings, when I drive my son to school, I have the radio on and tuned to NPR. The only times this doesn't happen is when he reads to me from the backseat to finish homework or review a book before a test. The rest of the time, it's NPR.

I love NPR. So much so that I volunteer my time and my voice for the twice-yearly pledge drives or answer phones if needed. It is thought-provoking radio, but not always suitable for young ears. Not so much language as material - and my little pitcher has BIG ears.

This morning, there was a story about Saddam Hussein's first testimony in court. I can't quote him, but in essence he said that the Iraqis should stop fighting among themselves and band together to fight the invaders. From the backseat came the question: "Who are the invaders?"

My own opinion of the war probably isn't fit for young ears... and how to explain when the word "invaders" has such a negative connotation? Finally, I told him who Saddam Hussein was, why he was in jail, and that we (meaning our country) were the invaders that he was talking about. I suppose I caved and gave him the "company" line as to why we invaded, but at the ripe old of age of 6, he doesn't really need to know that our President is an idiot. The world is uncertain enough without telling children that the people who run it don't know what they're doing. Sad, but true.

Last week, he wanted to know what "custody" was after hearing a story about a new law being proposed to reduce child support dependent upon how much time the non-custodial parent spent with the children. Again, I started with the basics, such as what a divorce was. Since both his father and I have been divorced once, I could use us as examples. Since his father had another son by his previous wife, I could give him solid examples of custody, child support, and visitation. (My own parents are still married, so I don't have any experience being a child of divorce.)

He thought it was really weird. Then he started asking questions about his half-brother's "other" family (the ex-wife and her husband and kids). Because, as it turned out, we are all quite close, I could tell him all about my "ex-laws" and their kids. Our situation is very good, if a little odd, and by no means unique. I am thankful for that because having to explain nasty divorces with fights over children, money and property would have been more than I was ready to deal with.

Thanks, NPR.


Alice in Wonderbread said...

hey I listened to the same thing this morning. Did you hear the chemistry professor from MIT explaining how we breathe in one molecule that's been in Caesar's last dying breath on the Ides of March 2050 years ago?

Man, I hope he didn't have halitosis.

I love your kid too by the way- hope I get to meet him someday. We'll scream they might be giants songs from the back seat together!

Sayre said...

He would love that!

No, I didn't hear that guy with Caesar's breath. We turned the radio off for the explanation, then he read from his book out loud to me the rest of the way to school.

By the way - my boy is definitely back. He's been his usual sweet and agreeable self again which is so wonderful after that terrible, back-talking, face-pulling boy I've been living with. Wonder what was up with that????

Alice in Wonderbread said...

Growing bones, growing brain, growing emotions. He's learning.

On all levels.

Aren't children just amazing? They really ARE the future. I don't mean that in a sappy over-commercialized pop 80s sense. I mean it in a realistic, fascinating, miracle kind of way- just imagine: if we as adults grow up emotionally, just imagine what the next generation can do to impact the world for the better?

Go go go, little man. :)

Sayre said...

He is the most amazing thing...

Sometimes I just watch him sleep and wonder what kind of man he'll turn out to be. What he'll want to do with his life. What kind of life partner he'll have and will he be happy...

Unfortunately, I can't guarantee his happiness. My brothers are a perfect example of the same parents turning out people who are completely different. Only two of us are married, two were married with bad divorces and will probably not marry again, one is wishing to be married but probably never will be, and one is gay with no thought of a permanent relationship yet.

You just never know.