“China-China-China. Made in China.” My 8 year old son seemed agitated turning over every plate, cup and utensil he could reach. “Why is EVERYTHING made in China?”
No malice was in his voice, just a natural inquiry. I kept quiet.
“Mom, is everything made in China?” he continued. This time he leaned his head to one side expecting an obvious answer.
I had none.
The kid was right. Apparently everything on our table was stamped with those three words. I had noticed it also — been noticing actually for a long time how the other three words “Made in USA” was becoming a thing of novelty.
Depending on who you ask, business owner or a U.S. worker, products made abroad can be a blessing or a curse. And depending on who’s on the receiving end, an average consumer not paying attention or a mom on vacation with a precocious 8 year old, finding a way to explain why many things are not made in the United States anymore could be benign or confusing as hell.
“Everything is not made in China, sweetie,” I started slowly trying to find the right words. “Many products that we use every day are but not everything.”
Maybe, if I smiled extremely hard he’d be convinced.
“It’s not,” he seemed sincerely interested. “Like what?”
“Like you!” Oh gawd am I reaching here?
“Me?” He seemed caught off guard.
“Err-yea!” Where was I going with this?
“People from all over the world come to the United States every day hoping for a chance to get the one thing that you have as your birthright – citizenship. It’s not something easily fabricated. You can’t make that on an assembly line, package it, and ship it to the local SuperMega store.”
Was this working? Seemed like it did, a little.
“I get it!” he declared. “You can’t make an American in China.”
“Something like that, ” I laughed a little. Not exactly what I meant but not a bad understanding of global economics, migration and immigration for an 8 year old’s perspective. We continued our talk, I felt the topic warranted further discussion. I decided to save the African ancestry in America talk for a later time.
“Mom, when I grow up I’m going to make things in America,” he seemed adament.
I believe him.
With that he grabbed his toy rocket — that was made in China– and went off to play.