Every mother anxiously awaits the day when her four-year-old child asks questions about imperialism and genocide. Right? Sigh. This one gets a bit dicey.
While driving down the highway a few weeks ago, Alice started asking about the indigenous people of North America (hereinafter “Native Americans”). Pardon me for a moment while I bitch and moan: heaven forbid she would ask when we were about to drop her off at pre-school. Or headed to a doctor appointment. Or any other time when she didn’t have all the time in the world to dig in to the details. Oh no. She waited until we were roadtripping and had just gotten out of Our Town. So The Mama had to think fast.
At one point during our talk (The Dada was noticeably silent while The Mama trudged through this conversation), I noticed The Kidling spoke in the past tense, so we had to deal with that. She was perplexed when I told her that Native Americans are, in fact, alive today and living throughout the United States. She was caught up with the idea that she was confident she had not personally seen a person of Native American ancestry (which I am fairly certain is not true, but it wasn’t worth fighting over). The Kidling was concerned about the small population and had a plan:
Alice: I know how we can make a Native American.
The Mama: How?
Alice: Well, we take some stuff and put it together and push a button and it lasts forever and ever.
The Mama: (suppressing a chuckle) You think that would work?
Alice: (ignores The Mama’s question) The Native Americans are very happy except for the people who stole their land. How many people are in Europe?
The Mama: I don’t know, kiddo, but these parts of the world are fairly well established now. Nobody is trying to steal parts of North America, but in other parts of the world, people do fight over land.
Alice: Well, which one has more people?
The Mama: I don’t know. Sometimes it isn’t about which has more. It is about who is the strongest.
The Mama: Because people fight to get land. It is how they gain power and boss each other around.
Alice: Well, Nana and Papa’s country doesn’t boss our country around.
And this is where I was let off the hook. Geography and the political boundaries of Our State are much easier topics to explain on a Saturday morning.