The three people in my house under the age of five have been obsessed with the idea of good guys and bad guys lately.
“I’m Batman!” Caden, my four-year-old-son, proclaims as he runs around in his blanket cape.
“And Robin!” the two-year-old replies, right behind him.
“Let’s get the bad guys!” they cry in unison.
My husband and I are usually stand-ins for the villains. I sigh inwardly at their use of the term “bad guys”. But this is all so developmentally appropriate, this cop-and-robber-type play, I’m not sure I should step in, or even what to say if I do.
“The world turned upside down. The world turned upside down,” The kids and I sing along to Hamilton as we color at the kitchen table. “The world turned upside down.”
“What’s this song about?” Caden asks me. His twin sister perks up to hear my answer to his question. (The two-year-old continues on his mission to break every crayon we own.) I pause. While we’ve been singing along to this soundtrack for months, this is the first time they’ve asked about it. Usually it’s enough for them that “My Shot” makes an excellent dance tune.
“Well...” I fumble. I minored in history in college. My brain tumbles over facts and stories, but which ones are appropriate for preschoolers? “A long time ago, our country fought another country. They were kind of in charge of us but we didn’t think they treated us very nicely. So we fought them and, well, we won.” I’m not sure they even have any concept of what a country is yet.
“We won?” he asks, eyes brightening. This he understands.
“And the bad guys lost?”
“Well...they weren’t really bad. They just believed different things than we did. They weren’t bad people, we just didn’t feel like they were treating us fairly. So we fought for what we thought was right. And they fought for what they thought was right.”
I’ve lost him now, though. He goes back to coloring, now singing his own little song under his breath that talks about how “we won and the bad guys lost.” Well. I tried.
Continue reading how I’m working to teach my children about the shades of gray in the world over at SheLoves Magazine.