How a 4 year old solves the Greek debt crisis


After writing about attending Seth Godin’s speech in an earlier post, where he suggested that parents should teach their children to solve complicated problems and volunteered the idea of asking them to solve the debt crisis in Greece…, I owe you the answers of my almost 4 year old son.

Firstly, we were in the car, which is a great place to have deep, meaningful discussions with your kids because they are usually bored and can’t go anywhere else as they’re strapped to their seats).

Secondly, my son is not yet 4, so I had to explain to him what Greece is and what debt is. So far so good, but I felt him looking at me kind of funny probably thinking ‘what the hell is she on about?’.

After giving him a little run down of the problem, his first answer to the question what is Greece to do, was:

1. Steal from Dad

Now, before we burst out laughing and cast it aside as a child’s silly idea, let’s analyze that for a minute here.

My husband hates coins. So he puts them on the table in the hallway when he gets home. I like coins – it’s money and I have a purse and a handbag, so I have a place to put them.

My son has seen me reap in these coins and has started doing just that from time to time to put them in his piggy bank. So for him, that is the first and most logic place to get money. And if he can, why shouldn’t Greece be able to. Pretty logic.

If we take this idea further though, we need to ask ourselves who Greece’s Dad is.

Zeus:

  • was the father of the Greek Gods and the greatest God of Ancient Greece.
  • was a weather God, protector of law and was honored every four years with the Olympic Games.
  • had mountains named after him and he is believed to have grown up in Crete.
  • had many children, is the father of the 9 muses and sole parent of Athena.

To translate that into our time and day, we could say Greece could:

  • pray to God for money.
  • claim royalties on the Olympic Games
  • sell Crete (or any other paradisaical island they have – but Crete is quite nice)
  • sell the temple of Zeus
  • sell some of the zillion archeological findings

Not bad for a first answer, I say.

The second answer actually came from my two year old son, who was also in the car and of course listens to everything we say (and we always think he only understand half of what we say – that proves us wrong!):

2. Call a “toota” (his name for anything from an ambulance, over a police car to a fireman truck and that goes toota toota too)

In itself, that idea is not so bad.
And it’s kind of exactly what Greece did by calling the European Union for help.

Along the lines of the above idea and since most ancient wisdom somehow came from Greece, they could:

  • claim royalties on the invention of medicine, because the first known Greek medical school opened in Cnidus in 700 BC after all. The Egyptians might fight them on this invention but I guess Hippocrates wins on being the Father of Modern Medicine.
  • organize a huge fundraiser and ask every European to donate 1 euro or 2. Europe has a population of a little over 800 million people. You do the math. It won’t solve their debt entirely, but it would get them off to a good start.
  • sell their hospitals – though I guess that is not working as the owe 7 billion euros to drug and device manufacturers themselves the FT reports

The third answer (from my 4 year old again) was:

3. take it out of the garbage bin

Don’t ask me how he came up with that. Because we do not keep our money in the bin (though I think it would actually be a good hiding place – better than under the mattress anyway).

Let’s spin this a bit further then. They could:

  • sell their consultancy on island waste management: almost 15% of the Greek population lives on the islands which is a lot more than other countries, so they must know something about that…
  • sell their garbage. Oh and why not? What they consider throwing away might be worth a lot of money elsewhere (if I look at some of the crap that’s sold on e-bay, then I am sure Greece can fill a whole bay on e).

The 4th answer was:

4. ask for money from St. Nicholas

For those who don’t know Saint Nicholas, he is our version of Santa Claus and brings gifts to children on 6 December.

Funnily enough, when reading up on him to find the appropriate link for you, I read to my astonishment that he is actually of Greek extraction. Who knew! We Dutch kids always thought he came on a boat from Spain…

  • I was going to propose that they sell his bones or something, but then it seems that the Turks and Italians are already fighting about those,
  • but since he was born there, maybe they can claim some royalties?…

My son was all worried about Greece now and kept asking for the solution. Because usually when I ask him a question, I provide him with the correct answer afterward…

So it was his first experience in solving complex problems and in the realization that ‘Mom doesn’t know every thing’.

And this is when we arrived at home and the Greek problem was left to be pondered over by the rest of the world.

However, they always say that creativity needs an incubation time. So in the evening, when I put my son to bed, we did our usual ‘what was the best part of your day today?’ ritual and I told him mine was when we were trying to solve the problem of Greece.

And that is when he came up with what I think is the best solution so far:

5. we should all go on holiday there and give them our money.

So there you have it. Greek debt crisis solves by a 4 year old.

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4 Responses to How a 4 year old solves the Greek debt crisis

  1. Dr. J says:

    I just learned more pediatrics than in my entire medical school rotation :-)

  2. Vandana Sarah says:

    Really nice exercise indeed Mimi ..
    Loved all his answers and loved your correlations. 2 thumbs up!!!

    I have a son almost that age and it's awesome how he comes up with deep solutions even though they might not look so deep at face value.
    Loved the post. I indulge in a lot of meaningful conversations on our way back from school as well.

  3. MindFul MiMi says:

    @ Dr J: I am glad you did :-) You should absolutely try it at home :-)

    @ Sarah: Kids are smart. If you 'get' their message. I think I will make this a monthly exercise and post :-)

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