Sowmya Rajendran’s The Snow King’s Daughter is a favourite with both my kids. Those of you who haven’t read the book can read the review on Saffron Tree (linked in the first line) and see if you’d like a copy.
We read it often and we’ve marked Tibet out on the huge map in the nursery and we often talk occupation and refugees and what not. Not in a political way, but in a simple easy-for-a-four-year-old to understand way.
A few days ago the Bean was at the dining table eating her dinner when she looked up and said, “We really need to tell the Chinese to stop being mean. They have to free Corbett.”
And then she was most annoyed when the OA and I fell off our chairs laughing at her. The OA wanted to correct her but I kicked him under the table so he shut up albeit unhappily. I just wanted to enjoy her babyness for a while more. She later remembered that it was Tibet and has corrected herself.
I’d put up the blooper on Facebook and a friend asked me how she’d heard of the Tibet issue and why such a young child knew anything about it at all. I think you’d need to read the book to realise that there are simple ways to talk to our kids about racism, injustice and other sensitive topics.
As for her age, I often wonder why we talk to kids about religion, God, teach them prayers and what not, when they’re too young to truly understand and make choices. After all most of us continue to practice the religion we were brought up in, justifying its failings and accepting every word of it as true, simply because it was fed to us so young. And it’s perhaps one of the most contentious and complex issues on earth, with saints and learned people struggling to put their thoughts in order. And yet we don’t think twice before feeding it to our kids.
Since I’m rather clearly not getting on to the religion train with both feet, I’d rather give them other things to believe in. I’d imagine its a lot easier to read up on environment, science, history and politics and find your beliefs. Things that to my mind are indisputable and leave no scope for confusion or double talk. It’s why they go to bed after ensuring that the taps are not leaking and lights are off, more religiously than bed time prayers.
It’s also why we marched around the dining table after we’d found Tibet on the map, all three of us shouting, ‘Free Tibet’. And I know I’d rather they believe in this and hopefully someday do something real for the cause than have any other beliefs that justify the bringing down of a mosque, the killing of a missionary and his young children, the defiling of a temple or the chopping of a tree.
Before we had the kids people often asked us what beliefs we’d bring them up with. I guess I have an answer now.
By the by, I am madly tripping on this song, this week.