Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Teach Your Children Well

Sitting around the dinner table, eating a balanced meal with representation from each of the food groups, tonight's conversation here in the Ward and June Cleaver Betty and Boo household went like this:

Me: "So kids, did anything different happen at school today?"

Betty and Boo (both age 7): "No."

Me: "Hmm. Did President Obama talk to your class, maybe, perhaps on the TV?"

Both kids nod. "Hey, how did you know about that?"

Me: "Oh, I think I heard something about it. He was talking to every single kid in school today."

The Dean: "That's pretty cool. What did he say?"

Betty, rolling her eyes: "Can we puh-leeeese talk about something else? This is boorrrrrrrrrrrrr-rinnnnnnnnggggggg."

Me: "I'm interested to hear what President Obama said. What was the best part of his speech?"

This gets Betty's attention. With eyes wide and in full dramatic fashion, she whispers conspiratorially to give us the inside scoop: "Well, President Obama said a bad word. A really, really bad word."

(And after the week the poor guy has had, who the hell could blame him if he let loose an f-bomb or something? Given how a simple speech to schoolchildren has caused a frickin' brou-ha-ha, it would be almost understandable.)

Me, trying not to laugh: "What kind of a bad word?" (and why isn't this the trending topic on Twitter? I wondered.)

Betty, in a conspiratorial whisper: "He said ... he said ... stoooo-pid."

Boo: "Here's what he said. He said, 'if you're in trouble, you're not stupid.' "

(A check of the speech transcript on the White House blog reveals that Boo is slightly paraphrasing Obama's line "so if you get into trouble, that doesn't mean you're a troublemaker, it means you need to try harder to act right. If you get a bad grade, that doesn't mean you're stupid, it just means you need to spend more time studying.")

The Dean: "What else did he say?"

Boo: "Goals."

Me: "What are goals?"

Boo: "I don't know. He was there with his friends. His friends are named Timothy Spicer and Arne Duncan."

Me: "Oh."

(I had to look up who Timothy Spicer was. Turns out, he's the 17-year old senior class president of the school where Obama spoke. And here I am thinking he's a new Cabinet member.)

Boo: "And he said ... he said ... he said grades K to twelve. And Michelle Obama. And he said never give up."

Me: "Did he talk about anything else?"

Boo: "He talked about his parents. They flew away. Did his father die?"

Me: "I think so."

Boo: "May I be excused from the table?"

Yes, our kids really do ask to be excused from the table. Just like Wally and the The Beav.

Spoken just like true socialists.


JoAnn said...

Oh, I just love this! So reminiscent of dinner conversations when my girls were that age (they still ask to be excused from the dinner table). Amazing what kids will latch on to and remember.

My oldest got off the bus one day and told me she heard a REALLY bad word. I though it was going to be one of the big ones (she was 6 or 7 then), but evidently it was just the bus driver telling a kid to SHUT UP. I breathe a sigh of relief and wondered how much longer that would stay in her category of 'really bad words'.

Niksmom said...

This cracked me up this morning! I wonder how many of the families who boycotted the speech would've even thought to have this conversation or to realize that some children are just at an age where they only take in about 1/64th of the context and concepts. LOL

DemMom said...

The Bug started kindergarten but wasn't allowed to watch the speech! Considering the fact that Bush 1 gave a speech when I was a sr. in high school, and I wasn't turned into a conservative Republican (but instead became a "professional Democrat"), I'm guessing something like this doesn't have the power to brainwash kids. But close mindedness and racism does. Hm, go figure.

gretchen said...

I loved this! I asked my first grade son what the President said in his speech and he said he couldn't really remember, but it was WAAAAYYY better than the last time they listened to him, last year in kindergarten (the inauguration) because it was short.

Dawn @ sheIsTooFondOfBooks said...

I needed a does of this tonight, thank you!

my bad word story (nothing to do with Tuesday's address) ... our youngest has always been a messy eater, and we'd ask one of the older kids to bring "a damp paper towel" to the table to wipe his hands and face after eating. One day he was covered with food and asked for one. He was so agitated that we heard "bring me a damn paper towel! I need a damn paper towel - NOW!"

We started referring to the clean-up as a "paper towel, only slightly wet" :)