My kids have opinions. They have opinions about local, state, national, and international politics. They have opinions about city infrastructure.They have opinions about how people should behave. They have many, many, many opinions about their parenting.
It's important to me that the kids feel like active citizens, and that their opinions have weight in the ongoing conversation (even when I later talk them out of them, as when Will decided for a while that she was a Libertarian), so I've been encouraging them to participate. Will, for instance, has MANY opinions about the parking meters that were recently installed our downtown.
Negative opinions. She hates them. Loathes them, primarily because paid downtown parking has severely curbed our "Let's just stop by the public library for a bit!" habit, since Matt and I have a game going to see how long we can go before feeding a downtown parking meter with quarter #1. To be fair, the library does have a small free lot attached to it, and there is IU parking a few blocks away that we can use, AND we only live a mile from the library so we can walk or bike to it easily, but nevertheless, the first time that we swung by the library after horseback riding, couldn't find a spot in the free lot, didn't have our parking tag for the IU lot, and I drove us on home instead, Will was OVER the parking meters.
Since that incident, Will got into the habit of reading the articles concerning the parking meters, and even more so the often hilarious and/or vituperative letters to the editor, in our local newspaper. She decided to blame the whole thing on the mayor, Mark Kruzan, and began to refer to him derisively as Mayor Croissant to insult him. AND she began to shout things like, "I'm going to toast, butter, and eat that Mayor Croissant for this!" whenever we couldn't find free downtown parking.
We live in a small-ish town, and I began to frankly fear that we'd run into the mayor socially, and Will would insult him to his face and possibly terroristically threaten to toast and eat him, so I decided to offer her another outlet, one that requires socially acceptable language (debatable, but still...) and certain polite conventions (VERY debatable, but still...).
And that's how Will wrote her first letter to the editor of our paper.
It was a great letter. She worked super hard on it, especially for a kid who despises writing by hand, and wrote the entire thing actually legibly and correctly spelled on a sheet of yellow legal pad, which I dutifully mailed in. She unfortunately name-dropped ME as the person who won't pay a single quarter to park downtown, and even more unfortunately spun out her personal conspiracy theory that Mayor Kruzan (whom she thankfully referred to by his real name) only instigated the parking meters because his pet parking garage project turned out to be a money sink (this may have some truth in it, but I do not know how she figured it out), but all-in-all, it was an excellent argument with a clear chain of reasoning and logical conclusions.
If only the stinkin' paper had published it! I don't know if they couldn't decipher her handwriting, or don't publish the opinions of children, but I was pretty pissed for Will's sake that it never appeared. Ah, well...
Syd, now--Will's opinions are generally pretty political in nature, but Syd's more concerned with keeping the trains running on time. This girl loves to figure out how things should work better, and it was all her idea to snag a comment card from the public library and explain to them what their next project should be:
At least this is a sign that she finally knows how to tell time, right?