One of the attractions that we made sure to visit this spring on our trip to Disney World was the It’s A Small World ride. It’s not as exciting as Space Mountain or Pirates of the Caribbean but even after all the times I’ve visited there is something I find quaint about it’s theme of international unity, even as I hate having the song stuck in my head for the several weeks after.
The ride is dated, first opening at the Florida park in 1971, but the truth remains that the world IS small, and getting smaller all the time. Technology and a nonstop news cycle now allow immediate communication and awareness of events virtually anywhere, at anytime. This silly little website has seen visitors from 138 different countries and independent pieces of territory out of a possible 247. Admittedly many of those visits have probably led to disappointment for some googling my retrospectively poor moniker Thirsty Daddy, and others have been hacking attempts from Eastern Europe, but I’d still like to thank my Kazakhastani and Tanzanian readers for their support.
To my daughter the world is very small. It consists of the places she’s been, the people she knows. A plane ride to Florida takes the same amount of time as a car ride to New Hampshire so to her they are the same distance away. She doesn’t understand why she rarely sees her cousins from Arizona when she gets to visit with the ones down the highway all the time. We’ve come home from minor league baseball games to find my wife watching the Red Sox and she refuses to believe that the ballpark on television isn’t the same one that we just left. She thinks I’m teasing her.
Her world is small and I’m going to let it stay that way for a while. Sept 11 just passed and to her it was just another day. She doesn’t know that daddy has been worried about friends of his in Texas and Florida these past few weeks. She doesn’t know that some of her classmates may have a harder time in their lives just because of the color of their skin or who they choose to love. She doesn’t know that there are children her age across the world that are going to bed hungry, others that are carrying assault rifles and preparing for battle. She doesn’t know the potential devastation that could happen just because two men in power need to prove that they have the biggest genitalia.
I’ve been told that this is the wrong approach, sometimes by those whose opinions on these matters I hold in pretty high regard.
I’ve been told that by hiding her from the world I am leaving her ill prepared for the realities of it, that raising those that will bring about social change needs to begin young, that this attitude is the epitome of middle class white privilege.
They may be right.
They may right but for now my daughter is happy and I want her to stay that way.
I think that there is a balance that can be found. She’s not “being raised color blind”, a catchphrase used by ultra-liberal white people to pat themselves on the back and derided by those that see the ignorance in the philosophy, she is being raised to understand that everybody is different, in many different ways, and that it is those differences that make us unique. She can be taught the importance of body autonomy without knowing what the word rape means, can understand the importance of recycling and conservation without worrying about rising sea levels, can understand “stranger danger” without being afraid to ask for help if she needs it.
These are things keep me up at night, she sleeps soundly. She still believes that people are inherently good, in the kindness of strangers, that the bad guys always lose in the end. I know better. I know better and the argument that she is old enough to understand how things really are is also my argument for not wanting her to.
Her world is small. It’s safe. I acknowledge that we are very fortunate to have it be so, but I can’t feel guilty for that. I won’t.
Maybe I’m wrong.
Maybe I’m wrong but my daughter is happy and carefree and kind and brave. She’s the first one to help up a classmate that’s fallen, to offer a hug to one that’s upset, to stick up for somebody being picked on.
For now that’s enough.