This morning, I have a great conversation with a rising 5th grader. This is the daughter of the mother who says the sign of a happy childhood is dirty children. This family doesn't own a television set, and they don't play computer games.
So what do they do?
Well, for one thing, this 5th grader has launched a dog care business and reads everything she can about dogs.
She has a subscription to Dog Fancy magazine.
I tell her that there's a German Shepherd puppy down the street, and she says, "Give me two days with that dog, and I can train him to do anything."
This girl plays piano and improves upon Pachelbel's Canon in D with her own embellishments. She can sing harmony with her parents. She wants to start a blog to give advice to pet owners.
She has freckles. Watch out. Somebody needs to make a movie about this girl (and all of her siblings).
I'm convinced that 5th graders, in the absence of television, can change the world.
We talk on my sidewalk (after she's shown me her double-dutch jump rope skills), and she mentions something a woman told her at the ice-cream shop. She said, "A face without freckles is like a sky without stars." My 5th grade friend knows it's true.
This girl already has a slogan about her own beauty.
We need more girls who launch businesses, develop their abilities, and move on confidently with their lives, assured that their freckles are absolutely astonishing in their beauty.
I ask her why she's so smart, so wonderful. In fact, all the children of her family exhibit the same zeal, the same flair. She says, "Well, all the kids like me don't have televisions. I think there might be a connection."
And then we're on to a new topic of how she might be able to train my cats to shake hands. "It's hard and will take a long time," she says, "but it's not impossible."
Of course not. Not for her.
Meanwhile, I usher my children outside. The oldest one finds another caterpillar egg, and the youngest one prepares the butterfly pavilion to take care of it. They are filled with wonder.
After that, another mom comes over and, together, we teach both girls how to jump into the double-dutch ropes. We've just had lunch, and they are back outside, running with the wind in their hair.