At seven and ten years old, my nieces continue to amaze me on a regular basis. They are so creative and smart (but I'm not biased) that they are always catching me by surprise with one new idea or another. Most of the time this is quite wonderful to behold, but it can, from time to time, get to be kind of annoying too. On a recent road trip, M and I beside ourselves at their latest bit of cleverness.
Sitting in the back seat, they are bored by the four hour car ride. It's dark, so they can no longer read, and we don't have any laptops or dvd players in our car. They are becoming antsy. I try to engage them in word games and "what if" questions, but that only works for so long. Pretty soon they start pestering each other. The subject they argue about is indicative of their ultra-liberal magnate school education (which I love):
Small Niece: I'm making up a religion, and you can't have it. It's a religion about giants (she's done Greek mythology at school)
Elder Niece: Oh yeah, well your religion is stupid!
Small Niece: My religion has giants, and it's the best one.
Elder Niece: Oh yeah, well, I'm not respecting your religion!
Small Niece (incensed): You HAVE to respect my religion!
Elder Niece: NO I DON'T! I'm not respecting it! Ha! Ha!
Me: That's enough
Now you have to repeat that entire conversation from beginning to end about 800 more times. Then change my line to "I SAID BE QUIET RIGHT NOW!!!" (oh my goodness, I sound like my mother). The next part is what makes all this so amazing.
Elder Niece: I'm making up a hand sign that means "I don't respect your religion!"
Small Niece: Oh yeah, well I'm making up a hand sign that means "you can't be in my religion!"
They continued to battle out their fake theological differences (yes, via hand signs) for another hundred miles or so, but at least they were quiet. Who knows, on the next road trip, maybe they can debate the meaning of life using only shadow puppets.