I was teaching a second grade class last week and had to give them a prompt for their writing assignment. Since I love finding out what’s in the heads of children, I asked this simple question, If you could spend a day or have dinner with anyone in the world, who would it be, and why?
Now I know they’re only second graders but they’re well into the year and that makes a bit of a difference. At 7-8 years old, they can be easily influenced by their friends, athletes, singers, celebrities, even fictional movie/animated characters. Boys may wear shirts or jersey’s with the names of athletes on the back or action hero’s while girls at that age love their princesses or some pop singers. So I was half expecting some of these names to show up in their writing.
With one exception, it didn’t happen.
Of the seventeen children who shared their writing with me, only one listed a female pop singer. The rest listed family; mothers cousins, aunts, uncles, siblings and even one dad. I was pleasantly surprised, considering everything our children are exposed to today, to find that family meant more to them than whatever else was out there. Maybe it’s because they are only 7-8 years old or maybe children have a greater, simple, appreciation of family than adults do.
Then I started wondering at what age that mindset changes; because if I asked teenagers or adults that same question the answers would probably be very different. The question we’ve all heard or been asked, if you could have dinner with three people, dead or alive, who would it be and why, is usually answered with the names of notable historical figures or current flavors of the day. Family is usually not the first thought that comes to mind or part of the current equation.
Of course anyone who reads this and is then asked the question might include a relative you never met or one who passed away at an early age, but that would be cheating. First reactions are usually the most honest.
So when does it change?
I don’t have an answer because the answer is probably different for everyone, but at some point, it does change. At some point we become a little more curious about those people instead of these people. I suppose it’s natural.
But for now I’m just happy that, for these second graders, family is still important enough to spend time with and enjoy. Those other people can wait a little longer.