What happens when you take three primary school–aged kids, put them in a room and ask them deep questions about the current state of affairs?
In light of this issue’s theme — the youth of Gippsland — that’s exactly what I did with three of my four young children. Well, it seemed like a good idea at the time…
It was a quirky after-school session with some fun banter.
I’ll admit, the fact that there is even an article here in print is an outcome I was gravely afraid may not happen. At one point during the interview, the following three moments happened simultaneously: my youngest participant, William (7), oblivious to the chat, began digging deep into his bellybutton on a lint-mining expedition; Adele (8), our supreme fidgeter, began planking and balancing sideways on her chair whilst eating an apple, and Sebastian (10), sat slumped over, staring into the distance, burdened by the looming temptation of afternoon zeds, fighting the weight of his eyelids. Alas, I pushed through, and I’m happy to report that I think the kids have the basics of humanity down pat. Phew!
Here are some of our Q&As, complete with cute little mispronunciations and wordings.
John (JC): So kids, I’m going to put some of these answers in Gippslandia.
William (W): There’s heaps of words in Gippslandia.
Sebastian: (S): Can I be on the cover?
Adele (A): If it’s the Commonwealth Games or the Olympics, then I choose the Olympics.
What’s the best way to live?
A: Be caring. Loving. Smart
What’s some good advice to give someone?
S: Say hello and smile. Coz it’s just nice. It makes you feel happy.
What kind of things make for a happy town?
S: Having a beach.
A: Everyone will be smiling and no litter. No people smoking. It will be like Noosa, where there’s all lights on the trees.
S: You can walk barefoot everywhere. Then you don’t have to slip on shoes everyday.
JC: What’s wrong with shoes?
S: Dunno, it just feels nicer when you’re barefoot. Especially when you’re in Noosa.
What do you kids know about climate change? Have you heard about that before?
JC: Well what about pollution? And litter?
W: It’s not good for the animals, and the Queen banned plastic straws. It’s not good for the sea animals.
A: …and because there was a video of a turtle that had like six straws stuck up its nose, and now it’s all got in the coral reef and now it’s losing its colour.
JC: So why is it important to keep the colours in the reef?
W: Without colours the world would all be plain. It would all be black, white and grey.
What do you think might happen in 20 years if we keep putting smoke and pollution in the air? What do you think it would be like to live here?
S: It would turn out to be a dump. Everyone would get asthma. And everyone would die. There’d be no humans.
W: The world would turn all black, white and grey and the world would be filled with rubbish.
How do you wanna live in the future?
W: I wanna live next door to Mummy’s house. My house will be seven storey. 15 pools. 200 pictures. I’ll live by myself. Five fridges. One room of books. On each floor.
Do you think it’s better to live in the city or the country?
S: The city. Coz that’s where I was born. And there’s heaps of Lamborghinis.
W: The country. Because in the city people wee on walls, and they do heaps of graffiti. There’s heaps of just yuck stuff.
S: But the city’s heaps cooler.
W: But it’s much more louder.
A: Traralgon’s a ‘half city’.
What do we need more of in Gippsland?
S: Owls. We need a government guy to let us have owls as pets.
JC: I love owls too, but — you’re reading Harry Potter right now aren’t you?
W: We need more nature, like more animals. Because animals are good and beautiful to look at.
What’s the best thing you can do for the region to make a town better?
S: A cinema. An indoor pool. And a massive soccer stadium.
JC: So things for people to do?
S: Also I’d build more homes for people. They need shelter or they might die.
What’s the most important things to have in your life?
S: Money. So you can buy food.
W: Money and stuff like your Mum, Dad and your family, so you’ve got people who love you, and have family to spend your time with. Money’s not that important.
What do you think will be the important jobs in the future?
A: To work at the bank.
JC: Why’s that an important job?
W: Because otherwise people could steal the money.
W: I think Foodworks. So you can give people food.
Where does the food come from?
A: Factories, and farms.
S: The ground.
A: We go to Woolies and we pay for it.
W: At Woolies you only get sheep. I want to buy one one day.
JC: You’re thinking of ‘wool’ William…
When you grow up, will it be easier to get a job here or in the city?
S: The city, coz there’s more opportunities. There’s much more jobs in the city. Alls we got here is design studios, bakers and real estate agents. In Melbourne you’ve got Mercedes Benz, all the car brands, you’ve got Apple, JB Hi-Fi, the whole of Emporium. QV. Melbourne Central. Adidas.
W: I want to live in the country coz jobs are funner.
A: I’d prefer to live in Traralgon. I’m thinking about owning my bakery. Café Calabro. It’s not really a bakery, it’s a café. Where we sell breakfast and lunch. Like Stellina’s but without the pizza.
Do you think being a YouTuber in the future will be a good job?
S: Yes coz you can earn heaps of money.
JC: How do you earn money if it’s free to watch on Youtube?
S: You earn money by subscribers. If you get a certain amount you get like, seven million dollars.
What’s the most important thing you can learn at school?
S: How to use a computer so we can learn how to use technology.
A: I think it’s learning how to talk, and spelling. Which is English.
W: Hmmmm, I think it’s maths. So you can learn fun facts. Stuff like 10+10 and 15+800.
What are the important things in the future you need to be careful of?
S: Cyber stuff. Online bullying. Digital footprints. Hacking. You need to protect your accounts and emails and passwords. You gotta keep them to yourself. Because then all your special stuff, like your email and credit cards, someone could hack you and steal that stuff and use all your money. Then you’d be poor.
A: Don’t make bad choices. Choose to be good, don’t choose to be bad.
W: Eating coconuts every day.
JC: Hang on, why is eating coconuts important?
W: Coconuts are good for you. And they taste yummy. Also eating apples and bananas.
A: Yep. Eating fruit and veggies. And — if you choose to be bad like a robber, you could get put in jail all your life.
Okay, so what kind of things can we do to be good to each other?
A: Teamwork. Be helpful. Listen. Be kind. Have respect. Safety.
W: Protecting your heart.
JC: How do you do that William?
W: By being safe, not doing risky stuff. If you protect your heart you will live.
How about with your friends?
W: Be good to your friends. Give them a happy meal. Not just a McDonald’s Happy Meal, I mean just a ‘happy’ meal.
For the record, later that night my wife and I asked our youngest child, Rose (recently four years old), a question to gauge her response and input.
“What would you fix if you were the boss of the world, Rose?” Her response: “Africa”. Our hearts sank in a sea of ‘nawww’. What a beautiful, profound answer by a young, selfless sweetheart. “Why Africa darling?” we posed, charitably expectant of a heartfelt response like ‘to help the poor’ or ‘to house the needy’… Instead came the answer ’because of all the snakes — because they bite!’
Maybe she’s thinking of a different Africa, but I guess it could be an issue for someone over there. It is a very big continent.
Hard to argue with the basic truths and wisdom of the kids. We adults ultimately have pretty much the same curious minds as theirs, with a larger vocabulary and scarily more responsibility. Who doesn’t want to enjoy a ‘happy’ meal with friends? Or more happiness in general?
The kids have it right here with the basics: Look after each other. Treat the environment and animals well. Be careful online and be protective of your money, but money is not as important as eating well and staying close with your family. Get to the beach or a pool once in a while, and gosh darn it, get some owls in your life and eat more coconuts!
Logic to live by.