Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Grit's guide to politics with kids. Rule 2.

When you cannot figure out the menu functions on the new DVD and you pass that remote control to your six-year old, at that moment you acknowledge their expert status as supreme being of all household media.

Similarly, when I want to understand what Gordon Brown means when he talks about managing the economy, I turn to the experts. I ask, Squirrel, what would you say if Tiger borrowed your whole pocket money, blew it on chocolate Maltesers and then told you that you're going to be grounded for non-payment of her library fines?

Squirrel would deliver a strongly worded opinion about that financial management, and I would almost certainly this time remove the metal bar before we got started on that discussion.

But the point is, I assume my kids are experts already. In almost everything. From economy, education, welfare and society through to the environment, trade, defence and the benefits and hazards of the justice system.

For which read, politics.

Rule 2: Assume kids are already experts

This is obvious, if you think about it. By age two, Shark, Squirrel and Tiger had definite opinions on my parenting skills. They shared those opinions freely, loudly, and in Tesco, to a maximum capacity audience. So their ideas about social cohesion were formed.

By age three their opinions were expressed about power, and how much of it they could exert over any situation if they locked themselves in the bathroom and removed all their clothes. Maybe, with fine timing, they could explore the literal concept of naked power five minutes after I said let's go shopping.

By age four they had views on crime and punishment thanks to the incident with the rock and scissors and the soil down the toilet. The NHS came shortly after thanks to the head wound from the first day at nursery.

At age five, they had a worked out approach to solving the educational problems of this country. Mostly created while watching their peers frogmarched down Bash Street School dressed in grey and white, while they took a leisurely breakfast and decided today they'd like to build a den in the woods.

And so it has gone on. Now Shark, Squirrel and Tiger offer challenging opinions on all manner of political issues, from the notion of fairness to the practicalities of the economy, thanks to the pocket money regime monitored by the Bank of Grit.

So I'm saying that kids should be treated like the people they are when it comes to politics. Wise, knowledgeable, experienced. Anything less sounds patronising and, given their expertise with rock, scissors and metal bar, round here I wouldn't try anything other than rational debate.


Fiona T said...

Very well put : )

Grit said...

thank you fiona!