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Maybe First Graders Should Run the Government

Future world leader and her fighting Beta fish, Cupcake

Future world leader and her fighting Beta fish, Cupcake

I don’t want to get into a huge political discussion on a Friday, but I”m sure everyone is well aware of the US government shut down this week. I also don’t need to get into the reasons why in great detail, but basically, the United States government can’t seem to practice good life and financial skills that many first graders know. I’ll use my own darling 6 year old as a prime example of why maybe first graders should be running the government. We learned lots from her in kindergarten, and now, here are some recent conversations from a first grader’s point of view.


On Tuesday morning Jim and I were discussing the government shutdown when our daughter asked a few questions. Here is that conversation.

Daughter: “What is the government, Mommy?’

Me: “It’s the President and the people elected to run our country. They spent more money than they had and had to close up because they are broke.”

Daughter: “Well that’s stupid. You can’t buy things if you don’t have enough money! You remember that show we used to watch? (Referring to Suze Orman before we cancelled our satellite TV) Maybe they need to watch Suze. She can show them how to save some money.”

Brilliant! Don’t spend more than you earn, and get advice if you don’t know how to do something.

Sticky Subjects

Politicians seem to shy away from sticky subjects or blame the other party if the answer might be controversial in any way. First graders just get right to the point and don’t avoid topics, even if the talking about them might adults squirm. They also find a matter of fact answer for any situation. For example, this was the conversation we had recently after driving past a place that makes gravestones.

Daughter: “What are those, Mommy?

Me“Those are called tombstones. When you die, if you are buried in a cemetery, you can have one put by your grave with your name on it.”

Daughter: “Are you going to get one, Mommy?”

Me:  “Well, I’m not planning on dying for a long time, but when I die, I want to be cremated. That’s where they put you in an oven and your body turns to ashes. Your soul is already gone up to heaven, so it doesn’t matter what they do with your body, and I don’t want to be buried in the ground.”

I thought we’d closed that subject until we drove past the gravestone place again.

Daughter: “There’s that place that makes gravestones, but you don’t want one. You want to be baked when you die.”

See, no shying away from difficult topics with first graders!

Tough on Crime

Often, the government seems to be too soft on criminals. First graders would never have that problem. When were in Portland this summer, we were enjoying a walk down by the river when a boy ran up and threw a bottle into the water. We thought we would use this as an example of what not to do.

Jim: “You see that? That is a terrible thing to do. It pollutes the water, hurts the fish, and makes things look ugly. Besides, it’s against the law to litter.”

A few days later as we were driving across Oregon, we passed a state penitentiary. This was the conversation about that.

Daughter: “What is that thing?”

Me: “That’s the state jail. It’s where people go when they break the law and get arrested.”

Daughter: “Yeah, like when they throw bottles in the river.”

There you have it. No one would commit any crimes with the wrath of first graders out to punish them.

I’m not sure what I did for entertainment before I had a child. Some of the things they say are so funny, yet profound in their sense and simplicity. I’m not sure when we lose those qualities, but it might make for better government if politicians could remember some lessons from first grade.

What are some great things you’ve heard kids say in relation to current events? Should they lower the age to run for elected office?

About Kim Parr

Kim Parr is a private practice optometrist, freelance writer, and personal financial blogger. You can follow her journey to 20/20 financial vision at Eyes on the Dollar.


  1. My three year old will have me in tears with some of the things she says. It’s one of my favorite things in life. And yes. Let’s elect your daughter. Sounds like she can do something about our national debt. Pronto.

  2. Haha it sure seems like kids would do a better job than our current government! It still amazes me that we pay SO much towards interest each year. If we just paid down our debts we would free up a ton of money that is currently being spent on interest.

    • That almost seems too easy. I think we should all just suck it up and deal with cuts until the debt gets paid down. I guess it’s easy to say that until your thing gets cut, but I’m not sure how much longer we can maintain the system that is in place now.

  3. “Maybe they need to watch Suze. She can show them how to save some money.” Lol, that’s classic! I can totally see our daughter saying that. Our daughter hasn’t said a whole lot about it other than saying they were crazy when we discovered a website we had been using to teach her was shut down thanks to the government. I say lower the age and get term limits. 🙂

  4. LOL, kids say the funniest things! =) My four-year-old does the same!

    • It’s really bizarre when I see myself, like a mini me. I’ve always tried to just give practical answers, even when they go way over her head. It’s really cute when some of that comes back at me.

  5. Haha, your daughter is adorable. Did you watch that show “kids say the darnedest things”? Some of the clips from it are hilarious.

  6. Love this, Kim, and what a great picture!!! It’s amazing what common sense kids have, isn’t it? I have a feeling they’d do a much better job at running the govt than our elected official are doing, and that’s really entirely too bad.

  7. Oh my goodness, how adorable is your daughter?? I can’t wait when our little one is born this Christmas and all of the silly conversations we’ll have as she gets older. 🙂

    • Write them all down. You’ll think you will remember, but it all runs together. There is almost something hilarious every day. Congratulations and enjoy.

  8. Kim, your daughter is absolutely adorable and smart too! But I bet you already knew that. 🙂 I love how kids take things and break it down to it’s simplest, and often truest, form. Honestly, we might be better served if your daughter was running the government and I bet it would a lot more fun too!

    • We would all be required to have dessert with every meal and spend at least an hour a day coloring or playing at the park. I might actually like that type of government.

  9. Kids are adorable and do say “spot on” things. Lets use a small child, however, in comparing what is gouing on in DC to a 5 year old’s birthday. The 5 year old has a Birthday. The parents bought her a cake. They direct their 10 year old son, who is grounded and has lost the right to use his beloved bike, to get the cake from the freezer. The 10 year old refuses and blocks the freezer door until he gets the bike back. The bike and the girl’s party have NOTHING in common. Just like the current imapsse, they are separate entities.

  10. Adorable. I would be thrilled if people were jailed for littering. It’s one of my BIGGEST pet peeves and because the repercussions are not major nor enforced, people completely disrespect the law.

    • I am pretty amazed at how blatant some people can be. Little kids throw trash on the playground her all the time. If that were my kid, well, let’s just say we wouldn’t go to the park again. It’s so easy to teach kids to use the trash can. I’d love to go dump a can of trash in those people’s backyard.

  11. I would just like to see politicians do what they say they are going to do when they were elected. It seems that important part of politics is to say what is necessary to get elected and do what they want after that.

  12. Love this! Hahaha! Kids say the cutest things and most of the time the most honest and straightforward things.

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