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OPINION: Conversation with a child might open some eyes

February 3, 2021 at 5:26 a.m.

Out of the mouths of babes often come some very startling revelations.

I'll dedicate this column space today to conversation between a Fayetteville 4-year-old (going on 5-year-old), Ava Claire Leding, and her mom, Emily Ironside Leding.

This conversation between these two occurred while in Little Rock two weeks ago to watch State Sen. Greg Leding, D-Fayetteville, navigate the halls of the Upper Chamber of the Arkansas Legislature.

Greg is, of course, the husband of Emily and proud father of Ava Claire.

I share in these sentiments as I am the father of two daughters and the grandfather of one of the smartest, most talented young teen girls in Fort Worth, Texas. I am drawn to listening, really listening, to what young girls have to say.

And I have come to really appreciate and listen when these young girls ask about politics, government and our system of laws.

All three of the Leding family were on hand when the Senate was debating the controversial 'Stand Your Ground' bill.

I think we can all learn something from this mom/daughter exchange.

So let us all listen in and see what we hear about politics, laws and guns.

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Mom Emily: I asked her (Ava Claire) if she remembered seeing the State Capitol before? .... Or if it felt like she was seeing it for the first time?

Ava Claire: "It was like I am seeing it for the very first time."

Mom Emily: "I asked her what her favorite part of the visit was?"

Ava Claire: "It was getting the toys from the (state capitol) gift shop."

Mom Emily: "What the most amazing thing you saw?"

Ava Claire: "The ceiling of the government hall where daddy sits."

Mom Emily: "I asked her if she was proud of daddy for helping others by passing good laws."

Ava Claire: "I was very proud of daddy."

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Next it was Ava Claire's turn to ask a few questions, Mom Emily said.

And so the four-year-old fired off her questions:

Ava Claire: "What happens when we pass bad laws?"

Mom Emily: "I told her people have different opinions. A law we think is bad, someone else might think is good."

Ava Claire: "Why do people vote for bad laws?"

Mom Emily: "Because they think it is a good law, even if we think it is bad. Some laws can be both good and bad at the same time, too."

After that tough set of questions, now came the "zingers," Emily said.

Ava Claire: "Why did they vote for the bill about guns when daddy told them they should vote no?"

Mom Emily: "They didn't agree with your dad, even though we think what he had to say was true."

Ava Claire: "Why did they not listen to that woman when she said we should think twice before shooting?"

Mom Emily; "I don't know. I wished they would have listened to her."

Ava Claire: "Guns hurt people, so when is it a good reason to use a gun?"

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Mom, Emily to all of us reading, this: "Parenting a bright, curious and observant-as-hell kid is my toughest task yet."

And that's one job Emily is apparently doing very well, at least from my perspective.

Kids need to grow up asking questions about what they see and know about their surroundings. They are perceptive because they have hopefully been read to from an early age. Kids understand people are different and from different backgrounds. And most kids, thankfully, are innocent free thinkers, compassionate, sympathic, kind and have real empathy and concern for the well-being of their fellow man.

The Arkansas State Senate on the "Stand Your Ground" bill approved it, in a 27-7 landslide by the GOP. That issue now moves on to the House Judiciary Committee.

And no doubt, Ava Claire, like a lot of us many times over her innocent age, have to wonder this, "Since guns hurt people. So when is it a good reason to use a gun?"

I am afraid in the days ahead, the Arkansas Legislature is about to show us what they think "standing one's ground" is all about.

--Maylon Rice is a former journalist who worked for several northwest Arkansas publications. He can be reached via email at [email protected] The opinions expressed are those of the author.

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