It would be easy to list off things going on in the world or my personal life that are complex and difficult right now. I am sure you likely feel the same. It is that thought that prompted me to write quite the opposite, and to find small experiences that have injected me with warmth most recently. We could all use some internal rays of light during the days of negative news and politically charged arguments on our social media feeds. Here are a few positive short stories from my world, I hope they bring a smile to you.
The Gift Of Giving
My 7 year old’s favorite actor is Michael J. Fox. After watching all three Back To The Future movies and Teen Wolf, he was transfixed on his new favorite actor (he traded Jason Mamoa in, I guess). He told me he wanted to watch all of the movies and TV Shows Michael J. Fox was in. I explained to him that sadly, MJF didn’t get to be in many more movies or more recent shows because of his battle with Parkinson’s disease. My son of course then asked about the disease: What does it do? Will he die? Why couldn’t he act anymore?He expressed that he was sad to hear this and asked how we could help MJF. Unfortunately, there is no cure, I explained, but Michael J. Fox wisely created a foundation to raise money to put towards research for the disease in the hopes that one day, there would be a cure.
He seemed content with that response, and relieved in a way that there was a chance somewhere down the line for Michael to be fixed.
A few months later, last week, after he returned home from school, I told my son I had some good news. My day job involves working with private foundations by helping them to process their grants, provide back office support, and assist with compliance among a few other things. I shared with my son that while looking up something for one of my clients at work, I saw they had just donated to the Michael J. Fox Foundation For Parkinson’s Research. This was a full circle moment. Not only did it click for my son what his mom actually does for work, but he was able to see that there are people in the world looking to make it a better place and whom are also passionate about the same things that he is. He beamed at the news.
Could I donate to his foundation, Mom? Like, could I use my saved up dollars and put it in the mail to him?
Yes, we could get your money to him, we wouldn’t mail the dollars, but I could write a check on your behalf. That would be really nice of you!
Cool! Let’s give him 50 of my dollars!
You can imagine how proud I was as a mama in this moment.
On the 4th of July we took a trip to Quassy Amusement & Waterpark. This was during the heightened state of the protests and rallies for social injustice related to African Americans and the police. As mentioned in a previous post, I had been quite open with my kids about the social ongoings in America during this time and the months preceding.
Throughout the park there are wooden cut outs of characters with a hole where you can stick your head through for a picture. Half way through the day, my older son, who was just one week away from his 11th birthday says to me, Mom, this park is racist.
Why, what would make you think that? I asked.
Well, if you look at all of the wooden cut outs for photos, all of the people are white. The arms, legs, necks…they are all white. Only one was brown skinned, the Indian one standing next to the cowboy.
He was absolutely right about the wooden cut outs. It was an opportunity to praise him for his observation and to make a note that this is likely something black or brown skinned people noticed many years ago in many amusement parks. My hunch as to why my son made this discovery is that we had talked a few weeks prior about the color of Band-Aids and how they’re only made to match white skin, they don’t come in other skin tones. My thinking is that, that story stuck with him and made him more socially aware.
I mentioned to my son the popular saying, “Be the change you wish to see.” And if you notice something that you feel is inherently wrong, you are absolutely within your right to try to do something about it and take action.
The positive here, is that the kids in this generation are noticing what’s missing. They’re paying attention and are being raised to have social awareness in a way that my generation or the generations before were not. Social change can take a molasses-like slowness as we have seen, but it’s really promising to see things resonating with them at such a young age.
A Woman For President
Our kids enjoy the I Survived book series. Our 7 year old just finished the one about the twin towers. While reading it the other night, he pointed out that every character in the story was male.
Mom, look it’s all “he’s” on all the pages. He did this, he did that, he said. There is no “she” on the pages. That is weird, right?
I mentioned that maybe the author had chosen to focus on males in her story, but it was good of him to notice that something was missing. Again, wow on paying attention to this stuff!
This same child has recently grown really interested in the election. I may happen to spout off about our current President’s behavior and character more often than not. While in the car recently, one of my sons asked for me to share the names and show him pictures on Google of our female presidents. When I said that sadly there had not been any female Presidents both my kids thought I was kidding. Yeah Right! No way! How can that be? You’re joking!
My younger guy says, but Mom, that’s not true. Hilary Clinton was President, right?
When I explained that she ran for the presidency but lost, he was confused on how that worked. I decided to share how the process works (which I have to say the electoral college is the weirdest thing ever and quite hard to explain). I believe I confused him further by trying to explain this.
A few days later, while he was getting ready for school,I overheard him revisiting the topic on female presidents. This time with my husband.
Dad, I think a female president would be really good. I think we need one. I still cannot believe there hasn’t been one.
To which my husband replied, Yes, it’s crazy right? Women make up 50% of the population too.
I LOVE that my son is so interested in this of his own accord. Yes, I’ve spoken to them recently about how elections work, but I don’t think I’ve spent that much time talking to them about Hillary Clinton, honestly. It is really fascinating to watch this transpire and see his brain working through this stuff.
Also, I have to give the schools props for starting to introduce different ideas to our young boys. The first week of school, my middle schooler mentioned that they were learning about “history” AND “herstory”. This sort of stuff is so refreshing to hear. It’ll make them good neighbors, friends, husbands, and humans to come from a place of compassion and inclusion.