The dregs of 2009, part 2: A reenactment of the Civil Rights Movement for toddlers

January 17, 2010

Here’s another not-finished-until-now entry from last year. It’s almost sort of appropriate for MLK Day.

* * * * * *

Phil received a lot of great gifts for his last birthday, but his favorite one was the fire rescue pop-up adventure set he got from his friends Ismael and Khalil. It consists of a burning building located adjacent to a fire station, with a ladder bridging the two for convenient access back and forth.

Phil especially liked the fire station’s gun-like fire hose that shoots plastic water pellets at the neighbor’s rooftop fire. It wasn’t long, though, before he discovered that the water could be fired at targets other than fires. People, for example.

Concerned that this game might deteriorate into firing-squad sadism, I tried to salvage a teachable moment. Surely these blasts from the hose could be used to impart some life lessons, if an appropriate context were provided….

“A long time ago, some people with white skin were mean to people with dark skin,” I began. “But a lot of other people thought that everyone should be nice to everyone else, and they went on long walks together to try to get the rules changed.” I grabbed a handful of wooden and plastic figurines on Phil’s floor and hastily assembled a protest march.

“They walked to government buildings and, uh, made speeches and stuff,” I continued unsteadily, not sure how to convey the essence of nonviolent protest to a three-year-old. A Fisher-Price barn was now doubling as a generic State Capitol Building. “And, well, these long walks helped teach everybody how to live together. But sometimes the walkers were stopped by bad guys who shot water at them.” I loaded the hose, and — Bang! — down went a peacefully crusading Dora the Explorer.

Of course, Phil wanted to operate the hose himself, and before long he had toppled several other marchers. I had to concede that, the way I had set things up, it was more fun to be a hose-wielding fireman than an idealistic, unarmed protester. Apparently it will take more than an assemblage of few equality-minded toys to drive home the desired lesson.

One comment

  1. Greg- just found your blog after hearing about your JFK 50 win and that you're doing Rocky Raccoon. I'm doing RR as my first 100, so hopefully I'll be able to cheer you on. I'll likely be a few hours behind you. I have a couple of young kids, so enjoyed reading a few of your posts about Phil. Best of luck in 2 weeks and maybe I'll meet you at the start.

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