Standing in the shower today, feeling the tight stretch of it all, I turned off the water. I held up my cupped hand, and caught the drips. One by one.
Proselytizing. We never stop proselytizing. We forget to live fully, with untamed wisdom and our whole ferocity. We forget to be quiet, and to love from our deepest, most sincere and shameless selves. We forget how hard it is, to do those things, and why we choose other strategies instead.
We are grasping, and building stories, and something does not feel right. Divergence, again, and many camps assembling. We are ripping ourselves apart, and we are already torn.
What do we say to the children? (The posts are flooding our feeds.) “Protect the children, and shelter them in love.” “Preach to them, teach them. Insert a set of constructs too far yet from their grasp.” We are preparing to spin them in our fretful chaos.
We push heart-filled agendas, and it is all in best effort. But we are not the experts. We are the reiterators and harbingers of the same old story, newly rigid. It is the adult grief-based mindset that must hear its own lessons, as healing salve. The children? Lest we forget, they are our teachers.
When we arm ourselves with white privilege, to speak out about the treachery of white privilege, then may we rest in perpetuity, and may we take our children with us. And yet, is it better to try and miss, or to avoid trying at all?
Our children do not understand, but they will happily wear our heavy constructs. They are sweet, and eager to see our sun shine on them. We will stuff it in their pockets, and we will weigh them down, and they have nowhere to put it.
But they do not embody exclusion, nor privilege. They do not elevate the self above another, unless in sibling or friend on friend combat over prized bits of gathered love: toys, paper, bits of string. Our attention.
Rocks, sticks. Treasures. In their pockets.
They embody raw, and pure emotion, which adults long ago found ourselves too weary to maintain. They keep our flame; we are determined to blow it out.
We can certainly arm up, reteaching from our muffled and grief-broken truths. We can embody our own best efforts, and we all should. But when we are ready, and before we proselytize over the children, it is worth taking a moment–a brief pause, to hold our own discomfort, and steady our grief.
There is a more direct route, and perhaps one that makes more sense in the long game. We can, in fact, step over our keyboard pulpits and befriend our neighbors and brethren who are different from ourselves. We can hold one another’s children, and bear witness to their tiny wisdom.
We can learn, right from the source: by sitting with people of vibrant color, and all the walks of life. We can learn each person’s name. We can be a piece of the community–the whole community.
When we are brave in this way, we gather the good lessons. But hold the lectures. As with any other teachable concept, wait–for the teachable moments. Then, with warmth, and firm tenacity, we can help our children understand.
We can heal the horrid parts of our history, which show up on the playground despite our best efforts. But not if we turn inclusion into a softly murmured lecture, or a “rule,” and walk away in cleared conscience.
If you fear the teachable moment is too late, and we should “get involved” earlier, then you have not spent much time really observing young children, or you have not immersed yourself in a diverse environment. Kids play together, if we let them, and things aren’t a “thing” until we’ve modeled and defined them as such.
And what about innocent questions, the inevitable inquiry about why one child is different from another? Easy. Don’t make it a thing, and yet, don’t avoid or minimize. Answer the question, keep it simple, and direct, and play together again. Push yourself to do the hard work of parenting without unnecessary overlays.
And model, wait, no–practice until you embody, inclusion and love. Laugh, and rumble with a tribe that is multifaceted. Push against the tide of all that came before us, that has shaped who and how we are, and let the unadulterated good trickle down.
When I stand up for what is right, and against what is wrong, my children are watching. I define what is right, and what is wrong, until they are old enough to draw their own lines.
When I swallow the lump in my throat, and walk toward that which stokes discomfort, they are watching. When I bear witness to the inequalities that will continue to burst open, and help another brush him, or herself, off–they are watching.
When we all stand, with unselfish stillness, and breathe through discomfort, we soften. This is the hardest, and least glamorous work–facing our fears, facing injustice, and remaining steady, in the everyday catastrophes. So it is a practice. And they are watching.
There will be times when rest is imperative, and in those times, REST. But slowly, and drop by drop, it will feel less like work. One day, you will wake up to the culmination of your best efforts–you will be stronger, but softer, and living a life of abundance, joy, and sorrows well-healed. This, I think, is real privilege.