Honestly, I have never been a woman who talked politics with her kids, but that was a few months ago, before the revolution. I guess I didn’t want my kids to hate the country. I didn’t think there was a point of telling them about democracy or elections or possible change, which seemed like sci-fi back then. I didn’t want them to concentrate about the corruption we were experiencing, before January 25th, it seemed like there was no way out.
My older son kind of understood, in a simple manner, that things were not ok. He talked a lot about unfairness, dirt in the streets, filthy air or tasteless food. He always compared them with the same stuff abroad, and constantly begged me to flee out of the country. I tried to avoid this subject, mainly because I didn’t want them to hate living here.
It wasn’t until we were rocked be the events, the protests, the fear, the TV documentaries, the post-revolution era, the joy of accomplishment, the feelings of victory and the questions of their foreign friends that the subject was open to discussion. They wanted to know what to say to their friends abroad and how to explain what happened. My kids started asking me questions like why now? What triggered this? What’s next?
I wanted to simplify things for them, so we started Googling about previous Egyptian revolutions and compared this revolution to the ones Egypt experienced before; we compared reasons, Egyptian boiling points, and outcomes. We found out that along history, Egyptians were so kind that they believed in their rulers, they waited for things to get better, they worked hard and suffered times of poverty and hunger, but when they felt they were being used, they erupted like a volcano. Corruption was the core of every revolution.
So, there on the Internet we found similar revolutions with stories of heroes, victims, martyrs, deaths, prices paid and freedom sought. I wanted to know if my kids and their friends (ages 6 to 12) understood what was happening so I asked them what they thought about the revolution, its causes and consequences, here are some of the answers I got:
“The revolution started because there was a lot of garbage in the streets”.
“The reason for the revolution was that there were evil people who were pretending to be good.”
“The reason was that some people wanted to stand in the street together.”
“I don’t think the revolution succeeded, my dad said that there are people who want to ruin it.”
“There are bad people out there, I am still scared.”
The best explanation I got was from an 11 year old girl; “Egypt was like 101 Dalmatians”. When she saw that I didn’t understand what she meant, she continued, “You know the evil woman kidnapped the Dalmatians to make herself a big coat, this is what Mubarak and his friends did, they wanted a very big coat for themselves”
So, of course, that meant that we represented the Dalmatians and Mubarak and his team represented the evil woman, a very clear and descriptive comment I must admit!
I think we should teach the kids more about politics so that we would raise politically aware generations which have a say in their country’s future. Kids should be taught that their voice counts, that they should have an opinion to what is happening. Schools should make kids participate in democratic discussions or engage them in student’s elections for example. They have to learn to express their opinions and listen to opposing views. Any resemblance to the real thing would make kids understand how things work out in the game of politics. Economics is also related to politics, so they should understand more about the economical/political relationship. History should be taught in a friendly way, knowing our past is supposed to help us understand the future, but how do we do that when history books are written in a manner which is far too serious for kids to understand the whole point of studying our history? it shouldn’t just be a subject to pass for the next grade.
My son hit me with one last question that I couldn’t find an answer to, “so you said that we were invaded by foreigners many times before and that they used all the prosperity and resources in our country, so how come this time it was Egyptians who took advantage of us Egyptians?”