The comments on my recent post about the resourcefulness of my sons and their homemade skis and snowboard reminded me of one of our trips into Anchorage about four years ago. My husband’s brother, Chris used to live there, and we always stayed with him during our visits.
Zeke was only three years old at the time. As soon as we walked in, he began roaming around, checking out the construction of the house like a building inspector. Then, with a look of approval on his face, he said, “Uncle Chris did a very good job building this house”. I told him that someone else built the house, and then Uncle Chris bought it. He looked confused at that, but accept it. He understood that people make or produce things, sell them, and that people use money to buy things they want or need. But I think he was confused about why his uncle didn’t just build his own house like we did.
When Zeke sat down at the table that evening for supper and saw steaks, he yelled, “Oh Boy! Uncle Chris shot a moose!” When I told him it was beef, he asked what “beef” was (because he’d only had wild meat such as moose, caribou, fish, grouse, etc. up to that point in his life). When I told him that beef was the name for meat from a cow, he said, “Oh Boy! Mama shot a cow ! ! !” I explained in simple terms, “No, someone else killed the cow, sold the meat to the grocery store, and then I went to the store and bought the meat. That’s the way things are done in the city”. He looked very disappointed as he just said, “oh” and began to eat.
The next night when he saw fish on the table, he said, “Oh Boy! Mama caught a fish!” So, I went through it again. “No, someone else caught the fish, sold it to the grocery store, and I went to the store and bought it.” Another disappointment as he quietly ate his supper.
During our last night in Anchorage, we had chicken. Same story, only this time he’d figured it out. “Oh Boy! Chicken!” But with a little question in his voice and a look of suspicion on his face, he asked, “Mama killed the chicken?” I shook my head. Then he said, sounding very sad, “I know. Someone else killed the chicken, sold it to the store, and mama went to the store and bought it.” I said, “Right”. He just looked at me, shaking his head and said, “Things sure are different in the city, aren’t they, Mama?”
When we landed at home in the bush the next day, he told Chuck all about his shocking observations. It went something like this: “Daddy, people in town aren’t like us! When they want something, they pay somebody else to make it. Why don’t they do it themselves? Did you know that Uncle Chris didn’t even build his own house?!!! He paid somebody to do that for him. People there don’t even catch and shoot their own food. They pay someone else to go fishing and hunting for them, and then they just drive to a store and buy whatever they want for supper. They don’t do anything for themselves, Daddy.”
Now that the boys are a little older, they understand things a little better, (although, to be honest, I don't think he was that far off in his assessment). It's kind of interesting to listen to young children verbalize the way they see the world.