It came without warning. On Wednesday, I was driving my tiny Ford Ka, my two sons tucked in the back seat, me and my wife in the front, headed to see Lufthansa bring one of their huge Airbus A380 to visit the Helsinki Airport. We were talking about how big the plane was and how you could park 72 cars on each of its wings.
The discussion went somewhat like this:
Me: You know, Oiva? The plane we’re going to see is so big that you could park over 70 cars on each of the wings!
Three-year-old Son: Oh?
Wife: Are you sure it was on one wing?
Me: I don’t know, it could be in total too… Or both. Anyway, that’s a lot of cars!
Three-year-old Son: Dad, why do we eat fish even though it’s a living thing?
I escaped the situation by promising to talk about the fish later, and although Oiva did ask the question once again after a while (“Dad, tell about the fish already”), he accepted my distraction and let me continue talking about the plane. We chatted about what would happen to all those cars at take-off and I was left wondering about the fish all by myself.
And I still don’t have an answer.
I told about the question at work and discussed it with some colleagues. I asked about it on Twitter. Despite all of that, the best justification still remains “because everyone is doing it.”
That is not quite the message I want to tell my children.
I wonder how long it will take before my three-year-old has turned me into a vegetarian.
Before I had children of my own, I used to laugh at shows like Kids Say the Darndest Thing where children share a bit of how they see the world. Now, I have the show running at home, twentyfour-seven, and I start to realize that it’s a lot more than entertainment. Raising children is not a one way street where you imprint your own thoughts and values into an empty mind of a child. That mind already has thoughts of his own and it communicates back, challenging everything you thought you knew about life — if you just listen.
It’s rewarding. It’s challenging. But most of all, it requires humility: Are we ready to let our world view be challenged by three-year-olds? And could we change our own habits as a result of their thinking?
I think we should.
And here is a good tofu recipe to start with.