Friday, 18 October 2013

The wrong planet

Explaining geography and world travel to a 4 year old is not easy. And explaining jet lag and time zones is an even harder task. While a kid can maybe understand that the world is so big that you have to take an airplane to cross the ocean, I hasten to say that the concept of a large sphere we live on spiraling through space, and facing the sun at different times all over the world is nearly impossible to conceptualize. My kids more or less understand that sometimes it's night in France and papa is sleeping while it's day in New Jersey and the grandparents are at work. But they do not understand why that means they wake up at 4 am and get to watch hours of tv until the sun rises and we can finally go outside to play or grab some bagels.

And you can imagine what this does to a clever and slightly dramatic 4 year old boy. 

Our first stop  was in Montreal where we spent a couple hours running around in an environment that somehow felt like perfected balance to this bicultural mom: a mix of English, French and American where everyone said "hello, bonjour"  leaving the door open to speak either language. 

Then arriving in New Jersey, the kids just took up like they'd never left. They wanted to go swimming and to day camp and to go eat ice cream. But we ended up at my favorite diner, where max and Suzanne were half asleep in the middle of the day. But since they couldn't sleep, I took them to the playground. And while we were walking home, max told me he wasn't on the right planet. 

"Mommy, I'm not on the right planet. That's why I'm sick."
"Max, you're not sick. You're just very tired because your body thinks it's nighttime but it's daytime in New Jersey."
"But mommy, I'm not on the right planet! I'm very sick!"
", what planet are you on?"
"I should be in France....I'm sick like E.T. Phone home. He was on the wrong planet."
I just burst out laughing. Because, really, what can you say when your 4 year equates himself to long fingered alien with a glowing light in the middle of his chest? 

But still, the question remains. How can you explain the world to kids? 

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