Being home with my kids for most of the summer has been awesome, but very tiring as well. I forget with their ages the constant need for stimulus and the mommy time they want. The other big thing with children the ages of mine (7 and 4) is their nonstop inquisitive nature and desire to always ask questions and know why.
I forget the exact data, but I know kids ask close to a hundred questions each day. It is definitely part of their charm and I love to see their eyebrows shift or eyes light-up when something that once was puzzling them is finally answered. To save me from some of the questions or to help answer questions I do not know the answers to, I’ve taught my kids to use our devices to ask Google for answers. I regularly will see and hear my kids get responses to their questions and cure their curiosity by just pressing a microphone button on a device. You want to know where chameleons live and what they like eat, ask Google. You want to know how an elevator works and how to build one, ask Google.
After an awesome day with my family yesterday, it was bed time and I was putting both kids to bed. As I was cutting off my phone, my daughter noticed a video from Twitter with people holding up signs, chanting and walking. She asked what are they doing, mommy? I said they are protesting. What is a protest? I responded, let’s use Google to get the answer and give you a clear definition. So we say together, “Ok, Google” and I read aloud from my phone to Google’s definition of a protest. After hearing the definition, she asked the question that I dreaded…well why are they protesting mommy? My husband and I have done a very good job shielding our kids from all the negative events going on world-wide. I knew once she asked why, I was past the point of no return and would have to answer more questions that I did not want to answer. After explaining to her why the people in the Twitter video were protesting, I proceeded to get really difficult questions from my daughter that not only Google could not answer, but ones that I had a very difficult time answering myself.
“Why do police hurt people when they are supposed to always help?”
“Have police hurt brown girls before? Why?”
“Will police hurt my daddy since he’s a brown man?”
“How do I make sure the police don’t hurt me?”
“Why do people shoot people?”
“How do we fix this?”
After answering her barrage of really really hard questions, she said well I guess we both need to go to sleep. Before she fell asleep she said, “I’m scared mommy, but I’m going to have a good dream, about protesting and changing the world.”
And I’m going to make that dream of hers my reality. To be honest, I’m so tired, so numb from events the last few months, but I’m even more exhausted emotionally and mentally from people revealing their true colors. People I perceived one way are now showing their true beliefs and thoughts via social media which has been disheartening, alarming and upsetting. Because of these things, I recently even shared with my close friends that apathy had settled in for me. Even though I’ve experienced and witnessed injustice and negative events in the world directly or indirectly before, for the first time I was deflated. I was not looking forward to graduating, starting the school year next month, even had lost my desire to workout and lift weights. I really was defeated believing that the boulder of status quo could not be moved despite my efforts and the countless efforts of others. Lucky for me this conversation with my daughter is turning that apathy around. She wants this fixed and as an adult right now I can help fix this even in my own pocket of influence.
I implore all educators continue to fight the good fight. Do not take the easy route. Fix this for our students. Open your classrooms to all your students this fall, giving them a safe space to ask questions and vent. Be transparent and share your own biases, emotions and privileges. Become more culturally responsive. Go learn and understand it is not another person’s job to educate you on injustices they or other people face. Drop your ego and show empathy and love to all. Have hard conversations and realize you will not know all the answers and that’s okay, the willingness to talk and listen is huge. All of these actions are how we will fix this and change the world. You willing to join me?