the passions of childhood

February 18th, 2007

Children are in a position of disadvantage, they are absolved of power. As a kid there aren't that many things in life you can really decide on, because your mandate keeps getting overruled by a higher office all the time. It would be nice to have some autonomy in this totalitarian regime, but in practice it takes a lot of negotiation and concessions. It's pretty fine diplomacy because of your great disadvantage, it's like Luxembourg negotiating with France. A kid would make a fine political adviser.

Of course, when you're a kid you deal with this everyday, all this is self evident. But people grow up and forget. When I was a kid, I vowed never to forget. Never to become one of those parents who don't understand kids and just pass arbitrary laws. Students are in this position too, they have no power. I always thought that if I ever became a teacher, I would remember what it was like to be a student.

Well, so far I haven't actually put those theories to the test, I'm neither a parent or a teacher. But sometimes I'm reminded of how my values have changed over the years. The other day I saw a couple of people standing in the street. One was holding a bike, the other was standing very close. Since they were far away and both wearing big coats, I couldn't make out what they were doing. "Is it a couple? Are they hugging?" The angle made it hard to see. "No, it's a father and a child sitting on the steering. But why are they just standing there? Oh of course, they're watching the crane!" There's some road work being done in my street these days, they've been digging and they even brought in a crane to help out.

It's hard to remember your values once they're no longer your values, you have to be reminded. One of my biggest moments in early life was operating a small digging machine in an amusement park. I have a picture of it, and it clearly shows how focused I was on what I was doing. When you see a kid, suddenly these things come back to you.

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