Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Trusting Like A Child

Since times are tough and people are losing their jobs at an alarming rate, I thought it would be a good idea to get J familiar with the idea of surviving difficult times as a family. Kit Kittredge turned out to be a perfect vehicle for this lesson. She took away from the movie the important ideas I wanted her to.

A few days after she had watched the movie, I mentioned to her than many people in my acquaintance had either lost their job or were likely to do so in the near future, that things could change for me too though we can hope for the best. She absorbed this seriously and after some thought asked "Mommy, it this worse than the Great Depression ?" and I answered that some people think so.

Her follow-up question caught me a little off-guard "Will we come out of it before I die ?" I hastened to assure her that it would all blow over very soon, maybe within a year. Everyone would be back working, no one would have to lose their home. I was making this up on as I went but J brightened up visibly so I figure I must have sounded convincing. Such, I guess is the power of optimism. Whether or not what I told her does come to pass, for the moment she is not worried about what the future holds for us and can go about her life as usual.

Adults are not that different from kids in how we react to bad news - specially when we know it might be true. When the experts start to project gloom and doom, the common person suffers in anticipation of what is to come. So we might prefer not to read what Nouriel Roubini has to say on the subject of the economy, we would much rather hear a more Pollyanna voice to soothe our anxiety. The difference between child and the grown-up is that the child implicitly trusts the optimistic view but the adult uses it to be in denial for as long as possible.

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