Little Pitchers Have Big Ears

It seems like there is no way to avoid hearing about Donald Trump these days. He’s on the news, on the radio, and on the lips of anybody discussing basically any possible topic. I mean, I can’t blame anybody for that; I am as terrified disgusted transfixed by the circus shit show spectacle that is Donald Trump as the next guy, and as I try to process my utter terror absolute disgust complicated feelings, I’m sure some of that has leaked through to the kids.

Kids are excellent at picking up on this sort of thing. When I was a kid, there was a phrase: “Little Pitchers Have Big Ears”. Basically, little kids hear more than they should. My parents would use it as a reminder to each other to tone down the “adult talk”, usually because there was a kid nearby standing with their eyes wide and their mouth agape, having the curtain of their innocence violently ripped back.

The thing is, as a parent you are hyper-aware of your kids at all times. You hear things through their ears, and you know their ability to handle things. Therefore you try to be a bit more careful about what they see and hear. People without kids…not so much. Used to being immersed 24/7 in online worlds that have been carefully curated to echo exactly their world view, you’d be surprised at the number of people who forget that they are not always among peers. They forget that impressionable kids might be hanging around with their eyes wide, their mouths agape, suddenly realizing that their parents are worried, that adults are not always responsible, people don’t get along, and that the world is more or less a complete disaster that is one small step away from an utter meltdown.

When it comes down to it, we teach our kids an idealized version of the world. We teach our kids that the people in charge are kind, caring, and competent, but we know that’s not true, don’t we? We tell our kids they need to get along with people they disagree with, and then talk about those idiots on the other side of the aisle who we just can’t stand. We teach our kids tolerance, but suddenly they’re hearing story after story of intolerance. Because of this farce of a primary season, they’re learning the world is a lot uglier than they’ve been led to believe.

Donald Trump is a *CONSTANT* source of questions around the house. They want to know who we are voting for, what would happen if Donald Trump “wins”, etc. The kids talk about it at school *INCESSANTLY*. You know how school goes: it only takes one kid to overhear a conversation, and now everybody knows.

In Evelyn’s class the teacher banned the words “Donald Trump” because they kids couldn’t stop talking about it. Evelyn said, quite uncomfortably, “I don’t like Donald Trump either, but I don’t like to say bad things about people!” Ollie has broke down crying several times because he’s afraid Donald Trump is going to start a war.

These are things they’re hearing, our little pitchers with their big ears. Kids are very sensitive to moods, and the mood of this country is not…right. They know that, but they’re missing the context around it. Missing the necessary maturity to handle this information, and process what they’re hearing, and be able to put it into the context of their lives. They’re making incorrect assumptions based on incomplete information, as all kids have and always will.

Anyway, all of this is to say that this video hit me pretty hard, because it absolutely represents my experiences. And it breaks my heart that this is happening.

Please think about the little pitchers around you when discussing murder, or Flint, or racism, or any other complicated issue. I firmly believe that when it comes to kids, these things require a full, rational discussion and a deft touch rather than an overheard clickbait news headline read in the heat of the moment.

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