An Unexpected Surprise

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.

 

71 thoughts on “An Unexpected Surprise

  1. socialbridge

    That’s very interesting, George. Seems to pour cold water on allllllllllllllll the stuff we hear about the extent to which social media is influencing children more or less from the time they can say ‘mama.’

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    1. George Post author

      I thought so, too. I don’t know how many children have access to extended social media but they are certainly exposed enough to form opinions. I’m just glad I heard what I heard. Makes me feel there’s hope..:)

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  2. jan

    Children that age are often afraid of strangers – even famous strangers. I worked for Make-a-Wish and under 10 kids’ wishes generally involved family. They may have wanted to meet Hulk Hogan (a very popular wish) or go to Dizzyland but only if mommy was nearby!

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    1. George Post author

      I agree, Jan and I thought about that. I think in the moment, when faced with the situation or given more time to think about it, fear would definitely rule. This was more unrealistic fantasy for them.

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  3. A.PROMPTreply

    I think you’re running your own social experiments as you fill in at school, George, and the results are most interesting! You’re going to have to keep track of these and compile them into a book at some point. Am curious though…..what would your answer have been? Who is it you’d most like to have dinner with?

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    1. George Post author

      Lol…how did I know you were going to ask me that question. I thought about including it in the post but decided to leave it as it was.
      I never knew my grandmothers. One died when I was less than a year old and one before I was born. My grandfathers died when I was a teenager.
      My mothers parents both came from Italy. My fathers mom came from Germany and his dad from England. Thinking about everything that happened in those countries, I wound like to sit down with all four of them and also invite Abraham Lincoln. Considering the differing personalities in that room, their backgrounds and thoughts about life, I think that would make for one hell of a dinner party..:)
      What about you?

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  4. Jodi

    and isn’t it interesting that we start out that way and we end up that way. The older we get, the more important it is for us to spend time with family. Seems we get lost somewhere in the middle – eh?

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      1. sportsattitudes

        You know it George. I had Michigan State winning it all over Kansas…with Oklahoma and North Carolina rounding out the Final Four. That being said I know some folks who have fared worse than I so hope springs eternal…as we enter Spring.

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  5. vanbytheriver

    I love that they picked “real people” in their inner circle. Makes perfect sense. I think it all may change just before puberty, when they begin to challenge/define their identity. And they start looking outside for validation. Maybe ? ☺

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  6. In My Cluttered Attic

    It’s nice to know family still matters to them. Sad, how the curiosity of age leads us in other directions. Awareness of the world around us must have a part to play in that. George, speaking of children I’ve been meaning to ask how Matthew is doing?

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    1. George Post author

      Yes, it was a refreshing and pleasant surprise. I think curiosity eventually gives way to somehow leading them back home, but it will take time.
      Matthew is doing very well. He went back to school the first of the year. He had his three month scans last month and they came back clear. He’s back to playing soccer and basketball and being a happy active little boy. He’ll have to go for these scans every few months for the next five years but if the news is always good, we’ll happily and thankfully deal with it. Thanks so much for asking, Paul.

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  7. DailyMusings

    This is so interesting- I would guess my 1st grade boys would all choose sports players- I think your kids choosing family says something about the connections they must have with their families.

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  8. Ann Coleman

    I have to say I wouldn’t have expected those answers either! But it does give me hope. And it would be interesting to find out just exactly when the answers would change from family members to pop culture figures. I suppose becoming more and more influenced by the world around us is a natural part of growing up, but I also think that at some point, we turn back to our family…at least the family members who love us and care for us…as our primary influence. Great post, it got me thinking on a snowy Sunday morning!

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    1. George Post author

      Yes, I’m as curious as you as to when it would change so I may have to conduct experiments in other classes..:)
      You have snow this morning? Where are you? We were supposed to get 8-12 inches here in NJ but now it’s only a dusting to an inch. But of course last time we were supposed to get five inches and we ended up with almost thirty so the forecasters don’t exactly breed confidence..:) I hope you don’t get too much.

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      1. Ann Coleman

        Sorry, I just saw this reply! Yes, we had snow on Palm Sunday morning, here in St. Louis. But my husband was driving home that morning from southwest Missouri, and he said there was no snow until he got about 50 miles away from home. Luckily, it was one of those beautiful March snows that sticks to everything but the streets, and it melted off before noon. It didn’t even harm the spring flowers or bulbs!

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  9. Carol Ferenc

    This is so sweet! I think as we age we do get back to “family first,” but it’s too bad we lose track of the important stuff in between.

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  10. Kim Gorman

    The littles are so wise and know what’s important. I think it changes when we stop valuing what truly matters due to media messages, a need for belonging in a peer group, and self-absorption. Then again, what do I know?

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    1. George Post author

      I think you’re right, Kim. The more social media and media in general infiltrates the lives of children, the more they are influenced. In time, I think they understand and return to what is most important but that middle time can be difficult.

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  11. aginggracefullymyass

    This question came up this summer when my family was all together( something that rarely happens…) I immediately replied, “My mother!” She died when I was 11. I know this wouldn’t have been the answer I gave 20 years ago, but as I’ve aged, I realize how much I missed not having her in my life and being able to ask her about her life. Sometimes we have to age to get as wise as we were as children!

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  12. aFrankAngle

    I don’t know the answer, but I’ll guess grades 4 or 5. Hey … why not make contact with a teacher in each grade level … have the students answer the question on an index card … no names (of students) necessary – just grade level in the area of the card you designate.

    PS: You have asked me several times about my governor. I have one factoid in the post going up in about 30 minutes.

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  13. candidkay

    Oh, this is heartening:). Because when we lose someone we love, we’d do anything to have them back for one last meal. Something kids appreciate long before they have to worry about it!

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  14. Nurse Kelly

    I subbed at my kids’ school while I was going to nursing school. Taught K-8. And when I was working in school health, as a nurse, I managed numerous clinics in schools including many charter schools and special needs. Your post is so heartwarming and is indeed a pleasant surprise, but I can’t help but wonder if the answers would be the same from school to school. I sure would hope so, at least with second graders. 🙂

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      1. Miriam

        I spoke to my son this morning and he told me he’d like to have dinner with Marcus Pearson (who made Mine craft then sold it) Edward Snowden and Jesus. Now that would make for interesting dinner conversation. It wasn’t the answer I expected but I shouldn’t have been surprised, my son is not your typical 15yo. He’s a deep thinker. For me I’d love to sit around with my grandparents, all from Italy and none of which I ever got to know.

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      2. George Post author

        No he’s definitely not a typical fifteen year old and I mean that in a very good way. Very interesting. Like you, I’d like to have dinner with my four grandparents, two of whom I never met. Two came from Italy, one from Germany and one from England. I think that would be interesting. Oh, and I’d include Abe Lincoln just to mix it up a little more..:)

        Liked by 1 person

  15. pagesvoice

    That was a marvelous exercise. My wife has been teaching second and first grades for 40+ years and “her little darlings” never cease to amaze her. I’m glad I found your site and am now one of your followers.

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      1. pagesvoice

        She certainly does. The first day of school a first grader approached her and asked, “Mrs. Page, what do you call a cow with no legs?” Hesitating, my wife answered, “I don’t know Darren, what do you call it?” Chuckling, the little boy replied, “Ground beef! Do you get it Mrs. Page?” The little ones are so funny.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. pagesvoice

        She certainly does. The first day of school a first grader approached her and asked, “Mrs. Page, what do you call a cow with no legs?” Hesitating, my wife answered, “I don’t know Darren, what do you call it?” Chuckling, the little boy replied, “Ground beef! Do you get it Mrs. Page?” The little ones are so funny.

        Liked by 1 person

  16. roughwighting

    Marvelous! Boy that put me in a good mood. I’m going to try this with my 7-year-old granddaughter (who is very wise). See what name she comes up with. Then I’m going to put it on my ‘future’ calendar and ask her when she’s 10, and 15…!

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  17. Pingback: The Virtual Reality “In My Cluttered Attic Bloggers Convention” Goes Mobile | In My Cluttered Attic

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