Last night’s bedtime stalling tactic started with this question:
“Mommy, are chickens kinda like birds?”
“Chickens are birds,” I said.
“No, they’re not.”
“Yes, chickens are birds. Trust me.”
“No, they aren’t. I know more than you,” said my saucy four-year-old.
“No, you don’t know more about chickens than I do, I’m afraid. Chickens are birds just like robins and crows.”
“Robins and crows are birds, chickens aren’t. And blue jays are birds.”
Nora has had chickens half of her little life. Somewhere along the way, she shoved them on a mental shelf separate from birds. Maybe because they don’t fly as well, or because other birds don’t live with us. For whatever reason, she made up her mind and it’s hard for her re-categorize something she’s believed half of her life — even if two years seems like a short time to the rest of us.
It doesn’t change the fact that chickens are birds. But it was a good reminder for me that we need to keep our minds nimble and willing to assimilate information.
Many adults run around with notions just as silly and in conflict with reality as Nora’s mis-categorization and are just sure they are right. But the consequences for adults are much greater: bigotry, racism, war. If there’s hope for the future, it lies in us being able to re-examine our categorizations against reality from time to time.
Say it with me friends, chickens are birds.