When people learn that I’m the KidsPost editor at The Washington Post, the reaction is nearly universal.
“That must be the most fun job.”
True confession time. It is.
I learn something new every day. (Did you know more tornadoes strike the United States than any other nation on Earth?)
By and large the news we deal with can be considered “happy.” And when we have to tackle something serious (How does a nuclear reactor work? Why are people dancing in the streets over the death of some guy named Osama? Are we going to have another earthquake?), we do it in an explanatory way that seems to be welcomed as much by 40-year-olds as by 8-year-olds.
And the kids I meet are enough to restore your faith in kids — and parents and teachers — everywhere.
Take Eileen Powell and Johanna Robinson, who are finding out on Thursday if they have won a national competition to create a doodle for Google. Each girl entered a drawing of the iconic search engine logo in a contest that was open to kids from kindergarten to 12th grade. The contest required each child to draw on the theme of “If I could travel in time, I’d go to . . .” and incorporate the drawing into the Google logo. From the more than 114,000 entries nationwide, each girl’s doodle was chosen as the best entered in her state.
When I spoke to her the day that the competition’s finalists were announced, words spilled out in a rush from this bubbly 11-year-old. “I came up with the idea of drawing the 1970s almost immediately. . . . It seems like that was a decade when there was a lot of protesting for peace and people trying to be green. I feel like that’s something we lack today, so it would be good to compare what has improved since the 1970s and what hasn’t.”
Did I mention she’s 11?
Johanna is Maryland’s representative in the contest. She’s also 11, lives in Brookeville and attends fifth grade at the Torah School of Greater Washington. Her doodle celebrates needlework of all types and embodies an appreciation for another time not typical of most high-tech tweens.
“My idea for my doodle was to go back to the time my relatives lived in Hungary when everything was handmade. Back then, things didn’t get made in a factory; you didn’t go to a store to buy clothes or accessories. Everything had to be handmade. It would be fun to go back and get a lesson from these people who were so good at these things because that’s what they did every day.” Her drawing includes a knitting basket (the G), an embroidery hoop (an O) and a needle pulling thread (the L).
You can go to Google tomorrow to see if either Eileen’s or Johanna’s doodle won the grand prize of being featured on the search engine’s home page. But if neither of these talented, thoughtful, intelligent and respectful girls’ work is there, all it really means is that the work of another talented, thoughtful, intelligent child is.
There are lots of them out there. Kids like the 15 winners of the KidsPost poetry contest, who gathered this week at Politics & Prose to read their works. Kids like the fifth-graders in Marsha Johnson’s class at Parklawn Elementary in Fairfax County who were so energized by my recent visit to their classroom that I stayed answering questions for an hour and 15 minutes instead of the 40 minutes I was supposed to.
So for a few minutes today, let’s celebrate these kids, kids who bring honor to themselves and their parents and who prove that I do have the most fun job in the world.