Since U.G closed last month, I have had the opportunity to pick my daughter up everyday from school. It is tiring work, especially since the school is a good distance from me but it is also often amusing and offers me insight into my four year olds’ mind.
Today, on our way home, like most days I asked her what she learnt in school. Of recent they have been on occupations so she would always state the name of the occupation she learnt and the duties of the person. Today however, when she replied that they had learnt about policemen, I waited to hear her description of a policeman’s duty, expecting her to say ‘protect me’ or something of the sort. Instead, her reply was, “policeman does kill you.”
I of course sought to correct her, but she was adamant that those were the roles of an officer sworn to protect her. She can be a headstrong child, so realizing I was getting nowhere as she insisted that “policeman does murder you,” I tried to explain dualities to her by telling her just as there are good and bad people, there are real policemen (good ones) and bad policemen (the pretenders.)
She pondered upon this bit of information for about a minute and then asked, “The real policeman does put you in jail too?” I told her yes, but only if you committed a crime such as stealing, murder or assault and told her that she had nothing to worry about because she was a good little baby.
She did not seem to buy this, instead saying that policeman does beat good babies too. At this point I was flagger basted and I asked her where she was learning these things.
She explained that her teacher told her that policemen jailed people and that her friend told her they beat and kill you. Asked whether she really believed that, she said yes, so I wondered why it was that she would take the word of a four year old such as herself and a teacher who was not too big on making distinctions for the children.
As we continued to walk, I continued my attempts on changing her mind on the police and their role in society, admitting that a lot of them strayed from their roles but many remained stringent and dutiful.
As we neared home, I asked her again, “what does the policeman do?” and while she did say, “protect me” I know she did not really believe it.