Thursday, February 3rd, 2011
Alleke has been trying to convince me all week that the sun is a planet. When I dug out our set of cardboard planets, laid them out on the table in front of her, and asked her to explain why there was no sun, she ignored my question, and instead returned to her original argument, which she had been beating like a dead horse. “Elena told me the sun is a planet,” Alleke said, referring to her teacher who had recently begun teaching the class about the solar system.
I even looked up the definition of a planet according to the International Astronomical Union, commonly referring to as the IAU, but Alleke still insisted that Elena, her teacher, was the final authority.
So, of course, I decided to go to the source. I told Alleke to go back to school after lunch and ask her teacher again if the sun was a planet. She came home from school that afternoon and told me that Elena had confirmed that indeed the sun was a planet.
This morning, as a last resort, I told Alleke to ask Elena if the sun was a planet while Mom was still at school, so that we had a witness.
April returned from school, and I said, “And?…”
April bit her lip and grinned. “Well, Elena said that here in Spain they teach about los planetas or “the planets,” and they say the sun is part of them.”
Having lived outside of my country for the last eight years, I’ve grown accustomed to having my basic beliefs questioned. For example, when I was asked how many continents there are in the world, I said seven, and everyone else said six. I had never heard of the continent of Eurasia. So, actually, I’m not at all surprised to find out that Alleke’s teacher thinks the sun is a planet. I’ve learned how to slaughter my sacred cows.
What I’ve come to realize, however, is that I’m at a disadvantage as a parent. In this case, I don’t know if I should believe Elena. Maybe everyone in Spain does think the sun is a planet…or maybe Elena is full of it. I don’t know what to believe because April and I have chosen to raise our kids in a culture where we didn’t grow up. While other parents rely on the conventional wisdom passed down to them from their culture, April and I have to fact-check, constantly.
The fact that I can’t assume anything to be true or that I’m on the same page as the teacher makes me less confident as a parent.
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