A few nights ago while reading our four year old daughter her bedtime story, my wife noticed that the little girl’s tongue was green. “Your tongue is green. What did you eat tonight?” My daughter immediately went on the defensive sensing the alarm in my wife’s voice. The responses ranged from “old stale candy” to “I don’t remember” to “I don’t want to tell you.” At one point we all went searching through the garbage for the terrible tongue staining specimen that my daughter now maintained she spat in the garbage. We found nothing. Then in a panic, my daughter said “wash my tongue, wash my tongue.” Still, long after my daughter went to sleep, my wife continued to obsess about the green poisonous substance that had infiltrated my daughter’s delicate defenses.
Later that night, my wife noticed an empty bag of fruit chews that come in multiple colors, including green, sitting on the coffee table. The next day, completely out of context, I casually asked my daughter, “hey, did you eat fruit chews last night after you ate that pastry?” No longer believing she was in an environment of fear and paranoia, she replied “yes.” And then surprised me by asking, “Why did you ask me that?” I was honest and told her “I think that is why your tongue was green last night.” Her reply knocked me off my feet. “Oh, so nothing bad happened last night?” and she smiled and gave a huge sigh of relief. “No, nothing bad happened,” I told her.
When I related this conversation to my wife later, she said “Oh my goodness, I’m Dick Cheney”. Indeed, my wife, in this case with the best of intentions, went on a hunt for weapons of mass destruction and could not give up the hunt until all sorts of tumult had erupted. My daughter, much like our dear country, became fearful under this haze of paranoia and interrogation and then fed into the crisis believing that just telling the truth would only make matters worse for her.
Isn’t it funny how lessons about how to run this country can be gleaned from the reactions of a four year old girl? Maybe if our leaders in Washington viewed running the country more like child rearing, they’d know better than to instill fear in their children, the citizens of the US.