Innocence Gone Faster Than a Glass of Alcohol in a Hemingway Novel

“I hope we don’t have a Third World War. The U.S. is making nuclear bombs and guns.”

That was what one of my students in my practicum said to me. It immediately made me think “Oh my god, I need to write a blog post about this and tell professor Scanlon!” My guess is that he probably heard one of his parents talking about it, but this topic still isn’t something a second grader should be worrying about or talking about in line waiting to go out to recess. It makes me sad that even my little second graders are worrying about world wars and some of the issues I have talked about in a classroom full of people 13 or more years older than them.

Unfortunately, I’ve heard so many depressing things in my practicum. You’d be surprised what these little kids are worrying about. Most of which are things that they should not have to worry about ever, especially at that young of an age. For example, during my very first semester at practicum, Trump had just gotten elected. I had a little girl come up to me, tug on my sleeve and ask me: “Ms. Adams? Will my mommy and daddy be deported?” That broke my heart. I instantly fought back tears when she so innocently yet so fearfully asked me that heartbreaking, yet real, question. I had no idea what to tell her. I have no idea what was going to happen to anyone after Trump got elected, so I knelt down, hugged her, and told her not to worry about that and finish her math problems. What else was I supposed to tell her? No? Well, what if they were deported and I had told her the wrong answer? Should I tell her yes? No, of course not! It was none of my business if they were here illegally or not and I was not going to tell her that her parents were going to be deported, that’s ridiculous. I told my practicum teacher what she had asked me, and she told me that just the other day, one of the other students in the class had gone up to a little Phillipino boy and told him “my mommy and daddy said that our new president was going to kick your mommy and daddy out of America” This was a second grader. A fucking seven-year-old said that. When I got back to my dorm after practicum, I cried. Then I called my mom and told her and cried again. This little seven-year-old was worrying about her parents being deported instead of worrying about normal seven-year-old stuff. Another boy was telling his classmates casually what his racist parents were saying. And then today, I overheard a seven-year-old worrying about World War Three instead of what game he was going to play at recess. It’s just so shocking for me to witness this innocence being lost. When I was seven, I didn’t know who was president, When I was seven, I didn’t even know what the word “deported” even meant, because you learn words after hearing them from your parents when you’re that young. That just shows how scary this world is right now. It just makes me really sad that these kids, whether they understand these topics or not (they probably don’t fully understand war or deportation), are talking about or worrying about them.

1 thought on “Innocence Gone Faster Than a Glass of Alcohol in a Hemingway Novel

  1. Thank you for posting that. I think your point really speaks to the “so what?” exigency question that always follows literature. I also think think that people don’t immediately assume children have these legitimate concerns. I can only imagine trying to interpret what’s going on right now with the current political climate as a child, without resources to answer these important questions.

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