“Let Me Speak a Word”
Dad accused of mansplaining; “You speak all the words sometimes”
This morning, over breakfast, Kina asked what a pandemic was. Laurea immediately punted to me, and I took some time to think before launching into an explanation about what the world is, and how it’s made of many countries—like Italy, and the Philippines, and Japan. “And Brooklyn?” she asked. Brooklyn, I explained, was a borough. “Like Queens?” she asked. Yes, like Queens. And then, just as I was asking if she had heard of The Bronx, she pulled the Kamala Harris card on me and accused me of dadsplaining her. If you know me personally, you know this is one of my deepest-seated insecurities; as a man-person who loves to explain things, I recognize the risk at any given moment that I may have taken the express train to Mansplain. That my three-year-old daughter, who has barely had time enough on this earth to be talked over by a man, would call my attention to this behavior was a terrifying reminder of just how close I stand to the precipice of boring, self-important, condescending explanations.
While I apologized in the moment for my actions, I fundamentally stand by my innovative pedagogical methods for describing pandemics. How can you understand a pandemic without understanding the concept of “global”? How can you understand that concept without understanding the idea of a community of nations? And how, in the course of explaining citizenship, can a self-respecting New York City parent pass up the opportunity to teach their kid about the five boroughs? It’s a whole lot easier to explain pandemics than it is to explain boroughs, and I believe in taking the hard road to brilliance, even when it annoys my kid.
The one thing I will stand firm on, however, is my belief that I am not responsible for her eggs getting cold in the meantime. That was thermodynamics, which I will explain to her tomorrow.