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A 6-Year-Old’s View of Seeing His Dad on TV

My son Solomon turned six the other day. This morning, he watched me on Good Morning America. My wife Ellen and four-year-old daughter Anya were also watching at home. Ellen later reported Solomon’s reaction:

When Diane Sawyer said the word “economics” during the segment, Solomon turned to his mom and said, “Hey, why’d that lady say economics? Didn’t she mean to say Freakonomics?” This is a boy who can recite the roster of the 1974 Pittsburgh Steelers — but he had no idea there was such a word as “economics” in the English language.

When my segment was over (I was talking about the factors that matter and don’t matter in early childhood test scores, from Chapter 5 of Freakonomics), there was a preview of the next guest: Jared, “the Subway guy,” who’s famous for losing a lot of weight by going on a Subway sandwich diet:


Solomon looked at Jared and then said to my wife, “Hey, is that Steve Levitt?”


Solomon knows Levitt pretty well, and likes him a lot — but I guess I can see why he mistook him for Jared. On the other hand, Levitt doesn’t usually wander around toting a pair of size 60 jeans as a prop.

My daughter Anya, meanwhile, doesn’t care at all when I’m on TV. At first, my wife and I were a little confused by this. But Anya explained, in her four-year-old way, that watching Daddy in miniature talking about boring things on the box that generally delivers more exciting fare (Miss Spider, e.g., or, lately, via Netflix, the awesomely good Kiki’s Delivery Service and My Neighbor Totoro) is a lot less fun than playing with him in person. I think her perspective on TV vs. real life is just about right.