It was during a marathon long study session with my 11 year old niece on the weekend that memories of my own childhood school years reared its head. How funny it is to think back at some of the preconceived ideas I had as a child and the ridiculous conclusions I came up with. One of those was that because of my upbringing, I would never know about certain things. Crazy, right?.
I can still remember sitting in class in primary school and listening to the other kids discussing something known as Concorde (the now retired supersonic airplane). I had never heard about such a plane and could not really participate in the conversation. The way they spoke about it had me on the edge of my seat. Why had I not heard of this marvelous thing? How come I was the only one that didn’t know what it was? What was wrong with me?
I remember being a bit irritated at my parents for not having told me about it. But my anger was geared more towards the fact that I didn’t know. I felt so stupid. I still to this day remember thinking that I can’t blame my parents for not telling me. When the hell would they have found the time?
My parents were divorced and my mom worked a lot of overtime to make extra money so we hardly saw her. On the weekends when we saw my dad, we never engaged in such deep conversations. I just concluded that kids like me were never meant to know stuff like that. It wasn’t part of my world. I mean think about it. A fancy, super fast plane that traveled to places such as New York and Paris. The furthest we had ever been was the Kruger Park with the caravan. In fact my dad had never even been in a plane before in his life (still hasn’t to this day!).
I hope the message I conveyed to my niece on the weekend is a very different one. I hope as she writes her exams, she remembers all the wonderful facts we chatted about. All the amazing topics we discussed. I hope she remembers the awesome pictures we found on Google of the Augrabies Falls and of the Drakensberg mountains and the Zulu huts and the insects…
But above all, I hope she remains curious and eager to never stop asking questions. Because in today’s world, knowledge is free to everyone!