I’m transitioning jobs this summer and the back of the Toyota is currently serving as my temporary office. Books (fewer of these, thank you Amazon Kindle), coffee mugs, posters and pictures roll around until I set up shop at Hamilton City Schools. As the summer passes, my curious daughters are exploring the various items and plugging them into their imaginary worlds that crop up during car rides.
The other day I heard Monica playing a trumpet. Except it wasn’t really a trumpet. It was a rolled up copy of the Magna Carta I purchased from the British Library in London.
“Papi, what’s this?” she asked.
“Only the coolest most awesome document in the entire world,” I answered.
“Why?” Monica always asked why. It is her favorite word. It follows after most sentences. I love this because you get to hear (and see on her face) her work out the world around her. Monica loves learning, even if she goes about it in round about ways (but don’t we all).
Still, it was a slightly tricky question. How do you explain to an 8 year old a founding document that limited the power of kings?
“Well,” I said, “What does Papi say about princesses?”
“That I can’t be one.”
“Um, because princesses are bad.” Both my daughters had issues with this. Despite what their Papi said, they had images of Disney princesses who, frankly, kick serious butt in that odd Disney feminist monarchy way. Those princesses were cool.
“And why are they bad?”
“Um, because they make people poor.” This, in an 8 years old mind, is what my attempt at explaining concepts like feudalism, monarchy, and concentration of power by the small elite boiled down to. I’m a big believer in the ideas of liberalism and republicanism.
“Right. Also, princesses, kings, queens, and princes used to have a lot of power. So much power that they sorta did whatever they wanted, even if it hurt other people.”
I pointed to her trumpet document.
“That document says the king can’t do whatever he wanted. That’s why it’s the most awesome incredible document in the world. It started an idea. An idea that eventually turned into another idea that all people should be treated equally.”
“Oh.” I wasn’t sure how much of the conversation made sense. But Monica did slowly role out the poster and stared at it for while.