a parent perplexity

Recently I asked my three children this question:  “What do you think about naked people on a calendar?”  They were surprised by the question, because in their collective awareness, calendars and nudity haven’t yet mixed.  So they giggled–“Weird!” said the 10-year-old.

I asked another question:  “What do you know about compost?” All three of them nodded sagely, since for as long as they remember, their schools (and their mother) have taught them to separate food scraps, pile the debris near gardens at school and at home, and later on spread the rich dark remains on the very food crops and flowers my kids will eat and share.  (Vermont takes early farm-education very seriously indeed.)  “Compost is good!” said the 7-year-old.

Next question:  “What do you know about fundraising?”  Well, to a Craftsbury school-kid, fundraisers are even more familiar than compost. “Seeds!” they all shouted, referring to a popular springtime fundraiser they’ve all participated in for years. (K-4th grade classes decorate seed envelopes with crayon images of produce, fill the envelopes with cleaned seed the students collected from a variety of crops they grew in the school gardens, and, with the proceeds of the fundraiser, buy things such as the plastic sleds they all share during wintertime recesses.  The students take a great deal of well-deserved pride in their fundraising efforts.) The 12-year-old, a veteran of many fundraising campaigns and thus more experienced in mathematical realities than his sisters, expanded on this:  “Fundraising is when somebody pays more money for something than it’s really worth, so you have some extra.”

Final question for synthesis and comprehension:  “What do you think about selling calendars of naked ladies sitting in compost, as  a fundraiser for a company who sells compost?”  Puzzled silence from all three, followed by a dismissive chorus: “Gross!  That doesn’t make any sense, mama.  Compost is things that decomposed.  It’s got bugs in it.”  (Vermont’s farm-to-school programs emphasize the importance of handwashing after handling compost.  So do I.)  I didn’t bother reading them the poorly constructed text accompanying the ad, since that only metaphorically relates to compost.

I’m participating in some discussion about this  little marketing conundrum, and meanwhile wondering how to best prepare my children for the adult madness that awaits them.


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One Response to a parent perplexity

  1. Sheila says:

    “Children are a wonderful gift. They have an extraordinary capacity to see into the heart of things and to expose sham and humbug for what they are.” ~Bishop Desmond Tutu

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