Note: I only have respect for the individuals described in the post below . . . their well meaning actions have been recounted only to prove a point - not to criticize their persona or abilities.
Children have many inalienable rights, and though I may sound as a sadist, the right to be afraid is one of them.
Now don't get me wrong, I'm not in favor of scaring the living daylights out small children . . .
During the course of the Exodus portion of the Model Matzah Bakery, we make sure to keep the lights on for small children, tone down the excitement, and the volume, and over all make an effort to keep things on the warm and fuzzy side.
Pharaoh isn't wicked, he's silly.
I get that. Scaring kids isn't cool.
But some pedagogues, influenced by modern, new-age, PC chleb need to take a chill.
Case in point:
A teacher from a prominent pre-school came today with her pre-school of 30 some odd three and four year-olds.
"Make it kid friendly." She requested.
We happily obliged.
Lights, camera . . . Action!
I was on.
"Look there's Moses," the prerecorded intro chimed in.
I waved to the kids.
The teacher stopped me.
"Is that Moses?" She asked them.
'What?' I wondered, 'didn't she hear the voice-over? Duh I'm Moses!
"Yes," I said hesitantly - my voice booming on the mike, "I'm Moses . . . Hi there kinderlach!"
"Hi! Moses." reply the cute kids.
"No!" says the teacher. "That isn't Moses! That's a pretend Moses - he's just a Rabbi wearing funny clothes pretending to be Moses for pretend. Because everything here is just pretend."
The kids look at me like some deranged incarnation of It or Bozo the clown.
Gee, Lady. Thanks
"Moses," booms the voice of 'Hashem' from the recording. "This is Hashem, your G-d!"
"Kids!" says the teacher, "Is that Hashem? No! It's pretend. It's a rabbi on a record pretending to speak like Hashem, because this is all pretend."
"Welcome to Egypt," I say.
"Kids," asks my favorite teacher. "Are we in Egypt? No. This pretend Egypt in a pretend place, with a pretend Moses, who is really-just-a-rabbi dressed up, pretending to speak to a pretend Hashem for pretend . . . because this is all pretend."
The children stare at the ply-wood Pyramids spray-painted gold, like the Allied Forces upon first reaching Bergen-Belsen.
The children follow me into the palace.
. . . It's time for the first plague -Blood!
Pharaoh sits on his throne, a martini glass full of water tinted red with food-coloring is grasped in his hand.
"Children!" The teacher shouts out, interrupting Pharaoh's line about drinking a Bloody Marry, "Is that blood real? No! They're just pretending to drink pretend blood, for pretend. But we know it's not really a mean Pharaoh - it's just a Rabbi dressed-up-in-funny-clothes pretending to be a pretend pharaoh - pretending to be in a pretend Egypt, that isn't real, in a pretend palace - that isn't scary at all! Right?"
. . .
The kids are about to leave [Pretend] Egypt, now onto the real Matzah Bakery - right?
"The children need to process," she tells me. 'For pretend?' I think snidely.
"Children. Let's process what we've just experienced!" She says.
Process? Experience? I don't think I knew words with that many syllables when I was 3. I don't think I wanted to.
"Breath in, Breath out."
She exhorts them.
"We're processing now! Who's processing with me? We all need to process!!
"Who was afraid she asks?"
Two lone hands are timidly raised?
"Is that it?" She asks. "I was afraid. Let's see again who was afraid!"
More hands come up.
"That pretend Pharaoh in the pretend Egypt that was pretending to be in the pretend palace was scary -wasn't he!"
Finally most of the children have their hands raised to express their fear. Some in the back begin to whimper . . .
Pretend Pretend Pretend.
No wonder the kids were afraid!
Children need to pretend. They need to experience wonder and excitement . . . They need to be able to 'process' on their own what is real and fake - to meander to that place in every child's heart where fantasy and reality blur.
They need to know, within safe limits, what is really scary in life, and what isn't really something to be afraid. They need to discover these boundaries themselves.
If we try so hard to convince a group of children that an innocent looking rubber frog isn't scary, then we implant fears in their minds that aren't real.
Generations grew up with Bambi's mother being shot by Man . . . and they turned out none the worse.
It's watered down, P.C. hogwash like this that is scary! It'll produce a generation of children with out a sense of wonder and imagination, emotionally handicapped by false fears and doubts.
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