Thursday, January 19, 2017

Talking To Our Children

On this day before the inauguration, I have decided to share these words I've been sitting on all week. It's been a trying week. A week of emotional and exhausting news. A week where we find ourselves worried about what the future holds, and what tomorrow brings - for our children - most of all.

It's been a week where I reread my own words over and over and found them lacking. And still, a week where I kept speaking. About education. Fear. Grizzly bears (I had to). And Girl Scouts.

It's a week where we should be proudly selling cookies in our area. A week where we should be celebrating the end of an era and the start of a new one in our country. And a week where we should be uplifted in hope.

But it is a week where we will be wrapping things up with a march. Across our country I see friends and loved ones gearing up. With signs. Without. A week where I think - I've got the right people in my life - in so many ways.

And a week where I have friends sitting this one out. And rightfully so. Friends who battle out there every single day. Friends who don't get to 'take a break' because the color of their skin or their traditional and cultural attire does not allow it.

And so, on Saturday, I WILL march. I will not have my daughter with me for this, as I am going with a friend and I would prefer that my husband be with me if she was, too. And she will attend her karate class and an important karate event and continue to learn to recognize her self-worth and her strength as a young woman, and I will explain to her that MY taking a stand and showing my face is enough for this week.

But let me get to the heart of this post - or maybe just to the rest of it - as my heart is surely on my virtual sleeve already with the words I have shared above and throughout my blog.

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I didn't make it a point to quote Martin Luther King Jr. on Monday. I didn't have the right words. Instead, I spent some time talking to my daughter and asking what she learned about him in school.

She told me one of her teachers shared pictures of a visit to the place where he did something. Where he was killed? Where he spoke? She didn't truly remember. The most she remembered was a picture of her teacher on someone's motorcycle. And that, obviously, isn't the only thing to remember. *Note: Since then I showed her some pictures related to MLK and she pointed out that the pictures she had seen were from where he was slain.*

So we spoke some more. And I asked her what she knew about him. She knew things. Of course she did. And when we spoke about equality and I asked her if people, everyone, all people, were looked at and treated equally today, my child said three important words.

I hope so.


And I knew what she meant. See, she is a nine-year-old in a diverse school. Where her classmates and teachers don't all look like her.

She is a nine-year-old who rolls her eyes and huffs angrily at what our not-yet-President says about people who are not like him.

I'm not sure if, in that moment, she thought that maybe it was only him. Maybe it was just this one individual who thinks that way. Talks that way. And yet I know that's not what she thinks. Because I know what we have discussed. Being fair. Making sure everyone is treated equally.

We've discussed HB2 and how awful it was. Is.

We've discussed Mexico and the supposed wall.

We've discussed people being arrested because of the color of their skin.

We've discussed fear. Fears she might have. Fears others certainly do.

We've discussed so very much.

And yet. I wonder. Has it been enough?

It hasn't, certainly, because it feels like it will never be enough. And so we discussed more.

We spoke of how we treat others, and how some people do not treat everyone the same.

We spoke of what to do if we witness someone being treated unfairly. And I paused, because my first thought was to tell her to go to an adult she trusts. But what if it is that adult, or another adult doling out the unfair treatment? What then?

She is a nine-year-old. And still, I tried to teach her.

I am not of the belief that they are too young to learn. I AM of the belief that we each know our children and we know the best ways to teach them. But we also must know ourselves and what we believe, what we know, what we want to teach. And what we CAN teach.

I'm of the belief that we need to teach our children about all cultures. That when we attend the school's African Cultural event, and my child dances to music she's learned about in school - with traditional movements she's been taught - that I will watch her eyes light up with laughter and note that she has learned.

But when she asks me to bring in food for the event, and the paperwork says to bring something from your family's culture - I tell her - quite honestly - that when the school has a Jewish Cultural event that I will do just that.

This will not happen, I know. I believe. There are not enough Jewish children in her school to warrant it. That said, at the holiday performances there were songs for Chanukah and Kwanzaa, and not just Christmas. Baby steps. *Note: She has stated that there was one already - I was not aware of this information for we would have definitely have attended, I'm still unsure as to whether or not I believe that it happened, though I do believe my child believes it did.*

So when I say what I said - gosh - this piece is taking a turn, but I hope you're still with me - I am not being sarcastic. I am not looking FOR acknowledgement. I'm trying to explain to her that I don't have recipes that fit the request. I don't know what to bring, because this is not my history being celebrated.

And I explain, though I don't need to, that we're celebrating anyway. Because we celebrate for all and with all. And we invite everyone to celebrate with us.

This parenting gig is a tough one, indeed. A difficult path to journey upon, one that you make up as you go. There is little in the world that is like this. No other role comes without a task-oriented spreadsheet or at the very least a job description.

So I continue. We, as parents, continue. We must. We teach our kids all the things we want them to learn. To respect others. To believe that we can make a difference in the world. To feel with their entire hearts. To listen. To learn. To hear what others are saying.

And I recognize, as a mother, a woman, a friend, that we have so much work to do. And that I'm not currently doing enough of it. I want to do more. I need to do more. But I will not forget that I'm guiding my child. I'm teaching her. Reminding her. And that, in and of itself, is a very huge step to be taking.

1 comment:

Kelli Williams said...

You are an incredible Mom, Andrea. I have no doubt your beautiful heart is raising an amazing soul.

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