By Contributing Mama Daphne Biener
Acadia came home from kindergarten yesterday with this nugget:
“The African penguin weighs less than 12 pounds. It’s endangered, you know.”
For whatever reason, I felt the need to correct my five year-old.
“I don’t believe there is such thing as an African penguin, sweetheart. Africa is hot, and penguins live in cold water.”
I actually thought that there was some strength to this logic. Why? Because I am a fool. No matter how many times I trot down this road with nothing more to support me than the expired fruits of my dusty education, I never learn. How much longer until I just trust that my brain is not to be believed?
Sure enough, Acadia was right. Accordingly to wikipedia, penguins established two colonies in South Africa in the 1980s. Apparently some forward-thinking cohort sized up the melting glaciers and decided, hey, let’s move this party south.
It’s not the first time I’ve been bested in a battle of wits by my children. They know the minutia of everything. Knowledge that I may have grasped at one time, but that I somehow displaced in my memory quicker than you can sing karma karma karma karma karma chameleon.
My brilliant little know-it-alls have been validated (thanks, google) by things as far reaching as the route of the Alaskan Iditaron (Anchorage to Nome) to the exact location of Mt. Kilimanjaro (Tanzania) to the real behavior of lemmings (that cliff-leaping story is nothing more than a myth). I am starting to question the wisdom of my holding on to any tidbits that predate my children. Like for instance my irritating habit of writing-off fairies as adorable, yet fictional, creatures.
My eight year-old, Kira, explained it nice and easy to my addle-brained self this way: “It’s easy, Mom. You can believe in fairies because they are real.”
No surprise, I wrongly misinterpreted this as an opportunity to impart a valuable life lesson to my children.
“Fairies are nice,” I condescended. “And it’s always ok to believe whatever you want to believe. Even if your friends believe in something different. Even if your mommy…”
“It doesn’t matter that you don’t believe, Mom.” She dismissed me with the ease of someone used to being surrounded by ignorance such as mine. “Because fairies are real.”
Ok, so fairies it is. No problem. I’m open-minded. So open-minded in fact that the supporting evidence of the existence of fairies could have easily fallen out my head sometime back in middle school. It probably happened about the same time I was swapping out things like the names of state capitals or the habitats of African mammals to make room for more vital pieces of information.
Like, for example, the lyrics to that super-cool Culture Club song.