Every day, I walk our nine year old daughter to school. It’s a 15 minute walk, which gives us a nice amount of time to talk. I take advantage of the opportunity to teach her about an aspect of the world – a different topic every day.
I call it Dadsplaining.
The way I see it, she needs to learn not just facts, but perspective. It all started a while back, when she randomly asked me about “Hippies” and who they were. (I guess she heard me make a joke about “filthy, lazy hippies”).
When I started to give her an answer, I discovered that, when you’re dealing with someone with very little historical context, you have to explain virtually everything from scratch and everything is connected. In order to talk about hippies, I had to talk about their opposition to the Vietnam War. In order to explain the Vietnam War, I had to explain the Cold War. In order to explain that, I had to explain World War II, which meant talking about the conflict between communism and fascism, and how both those political philosophies are extremely filled with poo (remember, she’s only 9).
So I’ve started dadsplaining things to her, giving her not just the facts, but my opinions, and making sure she sees that those opinions are informed by facts, and letting the conversation go to wherever it needs to go. No topic is off-limits and she can ask me about anything she wants.
I’ve decided to capture these conversations, for future reference as she grows up, and maybe for your enjoyment as well.
*This post really is a true and accurate representation of our conversations, captured the next day, and lightly edited for clarity and brevity.
Daughter: “Daddy, can you tell me about Boris Johnson?”
Daddy: “What makes you ask about him?”
Daughter: “He was in that newspaper that I was reading and I was wondering who he was.”
Daddy: “Boris Johnson is that politician with the blonde floppy hair. You must have seen him. He used to be the Mayor of London, but he’s in the papers now, because he’s the foreign minister and people believe he is plotting to become the next Prime Minister.”
Daughter: “How can he do that?”
Daddy: “You know how Theresa May did very poorly in the election a couple of weeks ago and everyone thinks she’s kind of an incompetent robot? Well, she’s head of the Conservative Party, and if Boris Johnson replaces her as head of the Conservative Party (as some people think he is trying to do) then he would probably get to be Prime Minister.”
Daughter: “How would he do that? Why does he get to be Prime Minister just because he wants to be?”
Daddy: “Do you know what the word ‘Entitlement’ means?”
Daddy: “It means when you feel you deserve something, regardless of whether you have earned it. How about the word ‘privilege’? Like when someone comes from a wealthy background, and they expect things to be easy for them and go their way – then you say they are privileged.
Daughter: “Like Trump?”
Daddy: “Yes, a little bit. Actually Boris Johnson has quite a lot in common with President Trump. They both often say idiotic things and they both come from wealthy backgrounds and had advantages in life – everything handed to them from an early age.”
Daughter: “So he’s lazy.”
Daddy: “I think it’s more complicated than that. In this country, there’s a small group of people who always run things. They are the “elite,” the ‘privileged’ or the “entitled,” and Boris Johnson is one of them. They are similar to the Barons and Lords of medieval times, except instead of controlling the land that peasants work on, they control the money, and the connections.”
Daughter: “What do you mean by connections?”
Daddy: “All the wealthy and elite people of the UK go to just a couple of schools and universities, where they meet all the other wealthy and elite people of the UK, and they give each other all the best jobs. Boris Johnson probably decided at some point when he was young that he was “entitled” to become Prime Minister some day. There’s a famous picture of Boris Johnson when he went to Oxford University, standing next to David Cameron, who I’m sure you remember was the last Prime Minister. Well Boris Johnson now thinks it’s his turn.”
Daughter: “Do you like him, is he any good?”
Daddy: “Boris Johnson has a certain amount of charm, and people like him. He’s often quite funny and people like that in a politician, and he wasn’t a bad mayor. But no, he’s not a good person – he’s out for himself, and sometimes his little act isn’t so funny. Do you remember when Barack Obama was in the news telling the UK that they shouldn’t leave the EU? Well Boris Johnson didn’t like that, because he was a big advocate of Brexit, so he wrote a newspaper article that claimed that President Obama only felt that way because he was black and he couldn’t think straight because he hated Britain.”
Daughter: “But that’s racist daddy!”
Daddy: “Yes, exactly! And it wasn’t one of those things where a politician says something stupid and he apologises because he claims he misspoke. Boris Johnson sat down at a keyboard and carefully typed this racist thing out and
put it in the newspaper for everyone to see. He was really only pro-Brexit because he thought if Britain left the EU, then David Cameron would have to leave and then he – Boris – would get a chance to be Prime Minister. He put his
ambition and his feeling of entitlement ahead of the good of the country. He’s not a good person. But it didn’t even work out for him. Instead Theresa May was chosen to be Prime Minister.
Daughter: “So people like him, even though he’s bad and selfish and kind of racist?”
Daddy: “You’re starting to understand politics kid.”