Ruby and Sadie stayed at our place overnight last weekend so their parents could go out and have some time on their own. We love the opportunity to take care of the kids as we completely enjoy their company. We never thought that kids would be much a part of our lives and see these opportunities as kind of a happy happenstance. Ruby is much more of a talker than Sadie is, like her dad, Ruby can talk about pretty much anything at length. Sadie much prefers to listen and to make commentary when necessary or when she can find a joke to be made. So, it's fun.
Oft times I'm made to rethink something as kids have a natural kind go questioning that throws chaos in to a well ordered kind of rigidity of thought. I was challenged to think about something differently over a simple conversation about the new Jif spread that we had picked up in the States a couple weeks ago. We knew the kids liked Nutella and thought they may enjoy this new spread. We'd made them waffles, or more honestly we toasted them waffles, and they both chose to try the new spread.
Sadie was first to weigh in. "It's good."
Ruby ate it and agreed that she liked it.
I asked the question that I think most would ask at this juncture of the journey, "Which do you like better, Jif or Nutella?"
Ruby said, quickly and enthusiastically, "Both!"
This is not an acceptable answer of course because there are two categories in modern thought, winner and loser. There is no room for communism in comparing breakfast spreads. So, I asked again, differently. Ruby said, "It tastes a bit the same as Nutella and a bit different."
OK, there's movement here.
"So, which do you like better?"
Ruby, a bit exasperated, probably because she was trying to have breakfast while being grilled like she was a single person focus group, said, "Why does one have to be better?"
I was stopped by the question.
"Um. Well. Um. I guess one doesn't have to be better."
She was then able to eat her breakfast in peace.
And I've been thinking about the possibility that maybe things can just be as they are, without competition, without constant valuing against others, without need for one to trump the other. I find the idea oddly jarring.
The boldness of children's thought -Coke versus Pepsi is a purely adult construct that serves to make divisions where none are necessary.
Ha! Go Ruby!
You needed the smackdown she handed out, you overthinking, persevering, catechising adult, you!
I think I learned that very early in my life...
So wise, so wise. I like to think that children are a better "me" or "you" in this situation. For all our awareness and experience - all it takes is a few words and we are shaken up like boggle game pieces. Why does one have to be better indeed. Wow!
My cousin was born three weeks before me. He was fast, sporty, organized and never read a book if he had not to read it in school. I wasvery slow, not organized and loved reading books.
When we played I used to sit in a small box, while he was trying to kick a ball into it, using the small spaces I did not cover with my body. He was climbing trees while I was sitting in a garden chair, telling stories about Tarzan for him. He could add summs and I did the long text-equsiones when we had homework.
He has a wife and a daughter and I am still single. But still there is always the bond of ou chilhood. We loved to tell Granny "both" when she asked whether we wanted pancakes or spaghetti for dinner.
Not only are divisions made where none need to exist, but preferences are then trumpeted as proof of one's superiority! As preferring one flavor of sugared, carbonated water over another somehow elevates one's personhood.
life can be richer with ANDs, this AND that, instead of ORs. And it shifts your visions. Thanks Ruby & Sadie! for shaking us all our of our dualistic thinking!
I can see a practical reason why one needs to be better - if you're looking to buy a spread for them and you can't afford both.
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