Saturday, February 19, 2011
One year, when I was in Elementary School, there was a poster contest for a carnival in town. It was a thing the city was putting on, so they had the kids in each school make posters to promote it, and each school chose a winner for best poster. If you won, you would get free tickets to the carnival, yada yada yada. So I went home and drew up a poster. It was Donald Duck, telling the kids to go to the carnival because it was going to be so much fun. Yada yada yada. And it turned out pretty good. I won the contest.
So the posters go up on the wall of the school, in the big hallway near the office, and they did some little ceremony with me. I can’t quite remember the details, but the principal shook my hand and such. Which was all cool. But then this one lady, she was a teacher or a secretary or something, I honesty don’t remember why she was there, but she turned to me and asked me a question. She said: “The picture is really great, but why did you spell the words all wrong.”
I was a little dumbfounded because what I had done was obvious. Or, at least, it should have been. Donald Duck has his peculiar way of speaking. A kind of scratchy duckese. So I had spelled whatever it was I had him saying on the poster phonetically to reflect that. No one had questioned this, all the way to the victory circle. And that’s what I told the woman. “I just tried to spell it like it would sound if Donald Duck said it.” It was, let me say it again: obvious. But the woman seemed surprised. She said, “Oh.” Then she looked at the poster for a second and looked at me and said, “Well. I think it would have been better if you had spelled the words correctly.” She said the word “correctly” as if it was a word I would have a hard time understanding. I remember that the principal gave her a look, but he didn’t say anything. After all, she was a grown up like him. He just gave me a pat on the head and sent me back to class.
Now. I mention all this because, in a small way, it was a life changing moment. For the first time in my life I looked at an adult and thought to myself: This is a stupid person. I wasn’t thinking mean about it. I didn’t look down on her. I just realized that she didn’t get something that was simple. Something I understood, and I was just a kid.
Seriously. I thought about it all that day, and again and again over the years. Grown ups CAN be stupid. Grown ups CAN be wrong. Some grown ups MIGHT not know more than kids, let alone other grown ups.
Can you see how this could change one’s world view? Can you see how this one little incident could undermine a kids trust in the adult world?
I’d like to say that the adults of the world have regained my trust. You know, in general.
I’d really like to.
Peace to you.
© LW Publishing 2011