Owen has been paying attention to the warnings about climate change. Well, he’s been paying attention in a six-year-old’s way, where imagination fills in about 80% of the holes in his understanding. When the Paris Conference was on, he heard stories about sea levels rising and flooding. In his mind, what climate change will do is cause floods. Our house is way up on a hill, and we live really far from the ocean (as Duncan daily laments). It would take catastrophic upheavals in our planet for our house or village to flood (I am pretty sure no humans would still be around). Nevertheless, Owen and some of his willing friends have decided that they have to stop the flood. It has become the theme of virtually all of his school-time play (I mean work, as he constantly corrects me).
Owen no longer wants play dates. He needs work dates. His best friend arrives with supplies and ideas. Together, they draw plans of drains and tunnels. They construct prototypes out of toilet paper rolls and tape. Owen took one of my notebooks with him to school. His hands are now red and chapped from working in -10 weather… I have now forbidden him from taking it outside at recess. “Sorry Mummy.”
His friendships are confirmed by who does and does not believe in the flood. There were five of them before Christmas. Now there are just four. “It’s not a quarter of the class anymore!” Is my son a cult leader?
But Owen and his most loyal friend have found the source of the flood. It’s the Thames, in London. They came up with plans to drain the Thames… and then all the oceans… until they realized that they would hurt the sea creatures. So it is back to the drawing board.
I am frankly not sure whether to be pleased that he is taking an interest in the survival of the planet or dismayed that his play has become so apocalyptic. Did I play nuclear war when I was six? Is this how children deal with fear? Or is it just constructive imaginations playing, working out solutions that the rest of us don’t want to hear?