What Six Year Olds Are Capable Of

My latest post for the Kitchener Post is now up and available here, so check it out. I’m sure a number of you have faced similar challenges just getting your kids out the door this winter season. Well, it won’t get any better for the next few months, so we just got to deal with it.

I had a hard time choosing what column to write last week, because two issues came up, both pretty personal to me, and I only had one outlet for them. In the end, I submitted what I submitted because this post below was less timely. However, the matter is still burning in my mind, so I’ll share it with you here.

This article talks about some opposition that has been raised by a loose organization of orthodox and evangelical religious groups to oppose Dalton McGuinty’s recently introduced anti-bullying legislation. This group is as social conservative as the day is long, and it has received some support from members of the Progressive Conservative caucus, most notably Frank Klees, but they’ve been making PC leader Tim Hudak quite uncomfortable, as he’s tried to distance himself from the group.

The group is led by none other than Charles McVety, whom we’ve talked about here before (see the incredibly shrinking membership list, aboriginal Canadian paintings that are part of a grand conspiracy to render us all sexless, and is somehow connected with Hitler and the psychologist Carl Jung (I’m seriously not kidding) and, finally, domain squatting as a means of fighting same-sex marriage).

Well, McVety and his cohorts are opposed to Dalton McGuinty’s anti-bullying bill because, “a front for his ‘radical sex education’ agenda”.

From what I can glean from their comments, McVety and his supporters don’t like McGuinty’s anti-bullying legislation because it would imply that homosexuality is normal enough that one shouldn’t bully people about it, just as people shouldn’t attack other people on the basis of their race or sex. I think that’s it. I guess it’s because once you say that shouting “you’re gay”, “you’re a faggot” or “you’re a homo” at your classmates is wrong, teachers will have to explain what “gay”, “faggot” and “homo” are, and then we get into the troublesome conflict between the public school system (which belongs to everybody in Ontario, regardless of race, sex, religion or sexual orientation), and the conservative religious organizations that see homosexuality as a sin.

Oh, and to drive home a message of fear to parents, braying once again “oh, won’t somebody think of the children!!”, they connect this issue to the old trope of the Liberal government’s proposed (and withdrawn) plan to teach children in grade one the proper names for male and female sexual organs (gasp!).

I’ve already said that, in my personal opinion, Charles McVety is an idiot and an embarrassment to Christians like me. Very little in the article convinces me otherwise. But I want to focus in on a particular line in the article, which stopped me in cold, hard disbelief. Here it is below, included with the two paragraphs leading up to it:

Progressive Conservative MPP Frank Klees sponsored the press conference at Queen’s Park and while a handful of Tory MPPs were in attendance, PC Leader Tim Hudak distanced himself from McVety’s views.

“There should be, in all our public schools, some committee to help students who are being bullied for sexual orientation — also for disability, race, religious background, what have you,” he said, adding that includes Catholic schools.

But there is a time and place for everything, said Rondo Thomas, of the Toronto-based Evangelical Association, but there is no “time and place” in an 8-year-old’s mind to try to make them conceptualize something beyond “tying their shoes.”


Now, I do want to caution that Mr. Rando Thomas isn’t quoted directly in this paragraph. And I will say that it is still possible that the line may have been cherry-picked or paraphrased — these things do happen. In the absence of a direct quote, if I have misunderstood Mr. Thomas’s point, I do wish to apologize in advance for what I am about to say. And I do have a shadow of doubt here because I have great difficulty fathoming that someone could be so completely clueless as to the abilities and capabilities of his children.

Anyway, if Mr. Thomas has been quoted correctly, he believes that the most complicated thing that my eldest daughter should have to deal with, in this day and age, up to the age of eight, is tying her own shoes.

Tying her own shoes. Everything else is too complicated and shouldn’t be exposed to her.


Mr. Thomas, the other day my daughter asked me what a menorah was. I have had conversations with her about God, about the different (but equally valid) faiths of Christians and Jews, and I think I’m only a couple of months away from trying to explain the resurrection to her. Let me try to teach my daughter how to tie her own shoes and let’s see what comes easier!

I’ve had to navigate the concept of religious belief, and the fact that there is a multitude of such not only in the public school that she attends, but in the family she is a part of. My daughter is coming to terms with the reality that there is no Santa Claus, but that he lives in all of our hearts. I have talked to her about war, about why people fight, about what taxes are, and why there are laws. Yes, she has difficulty sitting through even the concept of a movie with plot, but she understands deep concepts and can talk about them. She is working things out and figuring them through.

She’s six.

How dare you tell me that my daughter is not smart enough to understand the concept that there are different ways to view God, that there are different ways to love and be loved, and that no one but no one should be shamed for differences in how they believe, how they love, how they live their life or what skin colour they were born under.

If you think your child can’t handle anything more complicated than tying his or her own shoes, your view of your children’s existence is incredibly naive. And, frankly, I suspect it’s not your child that has the problem understanding such complexities here, it’s more a case that you yourself are just too fearful to discuss the topic with him or her. My advice to you is to man up. You do your children no favours by hiding them from the world instead of encouraging them to meet it - warts and all - with love.

And as for tying my daughter’s shoes? Why does she need to learn that, when all her shoes have velcro straps on them? When the time comes to teach her knots, I’ll be sending her to the girl scouts.

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