My two-year-old son asked me one day, after coming back from preschool: "Daddy, am I stupid?"
I was perplexed. I asked him what made him think that. I found out he wasn't learning as fast as the other kids, and they were making fun of him.
My wife confirmed that he was sent to language therapy because he was supposed to be using 50 words and my son was "only" using 40.
How could a school bureaucrat be so close-minded as to label a kid for something like that, and how could he know how many words my son knew, anyway?
I deflected my son's question and decided to keep quiet in the name of peace with the preschool. He was three when he asked, "Dad, why don't we celebrate Christmas at school?"
I did not know what to say. How could I explain that political correctness had killed Christmas, a special time for kids? So I decided to keep quiet.
During his first year in elementary school, he approached me with an odd question: "Daddy, can I give mom a kiss?"
Stunned, I inquired why he was asking me such a bizarre question. We always kiss him good night, as we want him to feel loved. He knew that a kiss was a sign of caring and loving.
His answer made my jaw drop: "At school we were told about a boy in my grade that was a criminal because he gave a kiss to a friend," referring to the six year old who kissed his classmate on the hand. My blood started boiling.
I didn't know how to explain to my son that kissing is a sign of love and this kid's kiss has been an act of chivalry for thousands of years and not a criminal act. How do you explain that some paranoid school official was just looking for something we all know wasn't there? I decided, again, not to say anything. I kept quiet.
After some time, he came again with another unexpected question: "Daddy why are you killing the Earth?"
I asked him why he thought that. He explained that he had learned about climate change at school and was taught that everyone with an SUV was contributing to the Earth's death.
How could I explain to my now nine year old that climate change theory has been politicized, and environmentalists are using him to advance their agenda? That teachers can be biased and use indoctrination to achieve their objectives. Again, I kept quiet.
One fall, a few years later, my son observed that I was wearing a poppy. He confronted me. "Dad, why are you wearing a poppy?"
I noticed arrogance in his question. Out of respect to our veterans, I replied.
"Don't you know that war is always bad and that soldiers kill innocent people? My teacher told us we have been brainwashed by our governments to go to war for oil and money. It is all the Americans' fault," he continued.
My blood curdled. How can we allow our kids to be taught by a bunch of radical, conspiracy-theorists? Our schools used to teach open-mindedness, with facts, not push ideology and propaganda.
To avoid a confrontation I just made a small smirk of disapproval but said nothing. I kept quiet.
When he was in high school, he demanded to know my opinion of gay marriage. With some reservation, I stated that I supported civil marriages, but not religious ones.
He shouted at me with disgust that I was a "racist" and walked away.
I didn't recognize my son anymore. I regretted more than ever all the times I kept quiet, only to keep the peace.
The school system had turned my son into one of them.
Salomon Rayek is a Kelowna resident and former executive editor of the Jewish Tribune.