I read somewhere that little kids have no compunction about cheating at games. After all, the whole point of a game is to win, right? It supposedly isn’t until they turn 5 or 6 that they understand the concept of playing fair, and will follow the rules, even though begrudgingly.
Last night, my granddaughters were coloring in coloring books I brought along. Andie is three and five-sixths. (She thinks the fractions make her sound older and more sophisticated. I, on the other hand, will not admit to another second of another year until the clock strikes midnight of the day after my birthday.) She is learning to color within the lines, and I watched her carefully color a girl’s hair bright red. She did a masterful job of staying in the lines, and wanted us all to crow about it, which we did. She then proceeded to color the girl’s skin the same color, and went on to give her a bright red dress, too. Makes the lines rather arbitrary, doesn’t it.
Peyton, on the other hand, turned six last month, and is quite good at coloring. She’d rather work on word puzzles. She was filling in a simple crossword puzzle. I remarked what a good job she was doing, but her mother looked over and said, “Peyton! You’re just copying the key!” Sure enough, down in the corner of the page the solution was printed, not even upside-down! Morgan tore it off the page so it couldn’t be copied. Peyton said, “I don’t need it anyway!”
When the girls finished their coloring masterpieces, Peyton said, “I’m thinking of a number between one and nineteen. Whoever guesses closest to the number gets my drawing!” We guessed, and I won it.
Then Andie said she was thinking of a number, too. As we guessed, we could see in her big, brown eyes that she thought of the number not before, but after, her mother guessed. Mommy won the drawing.
Morgan said that the day before, Andie said she was thinking of a number between four and five. Morgan guessed four. Andie said excitedly, “Yes!” Then Andie asked her to guess another number. Morgan said five. Andie shouted out, “Yes, again!”
I wondered if kids really mean to cheat, or if they just recognize an opportunity when they see one. The key to the crossword was right there to copy. Guessing a number that is only in another person’s head is always suspect. A kid wouldn’t even trust the Pope not to fudge on his number.
We teach kids that cheating is wrong, and how to play fair. We tell them that they will get a sense of satisfaction and pride in doing something on the up and up. It must be a great leap for little minds to ignore the obvious way to success just to be a “good” person. No wonder so many of us grow to adulthood and think cheating is the easiest way to success. We never really accepted that knowing we did the right thing is superior to the obvious rewards of doing the wrong thing.
Thank you veterans
I’ve been listening to forties music lately, which is broadcast on Sirius radio, bequeathed to me by John, since I began driving his car. There are channels that play the hits of the ‘40s, ‘50s, 60’s and so on, so I started with the forties.
What strikes me about the music of that decade—the decade in which my parents served in the Navy and married—is its “grown-upness.” It’s not only sophisticated—even “Mairzy Doats” and “Open the door, Richard” have a certain cosmopolitan air to them—but reflect the “life is serious” attitude of young people of the war years.
Then came the fifties, sixties, and disco. ‘Nuff said.
I think a lot about my parents now that they are gone. I wonder what they were feeling when they married and started a family (divorce not an option), worked hard (no parents in a position to bail them out—in fact the money went the other way at times), and achieved all the things that their children then turned around and scoffed at in the groovy sixties.
I wonder if my generation, or this current generation, had a WORLD war, one in which the causes and goal were clear, if we would be the same as we are.
The Second World War was defining to that generation, and it is reflected in everything about them, including their music. Life is serious.
I would like to thank my parents, my uncles, and others in their generation, who truly did take life seriously and saved freedom. I’d like to thank my brother and my friends who fought in Viet Nam, and, shamefully, came home to be belittled and hated—or didn’t come home at all.
I’d like to thank all our veterans for their service to their country and to their fellow Americans that will affect us for generations to come.