Wednesday, November 9, 2016

So different, yet kind of the same

Sometimes I think that hermit crabs are the smartest creatures on earth. They hang out in their shells, away from the world. Like the Grinch. Up there, on top of his mountain, surrounded by piles of garbage.  Like going off the grid alone, just me and family.  Alone. No news of the horrible things that go on in this world. But let's face it, that is not the world we live in. Even the Grinch had his dog, Max.   This life was meant to be shared, and there is no hiding from it. Besides, I am a leader, of sorts. We all are, aren't we? Every single one of us has at least one someone looking up at us, watching us, taking it all in. I have two. And because I am leading those two young people, I have to fight the urge to go into hiding.

This morning I sat down on my oldest son's bed and gently explained to him the outcome of the presidential election. And while it is the topic that is on the lips of our entire nation today, it is not the first time I have sat down on that bed to have a tough conversation. We have covered racism. Bullying. Adoption. Loss. Pain, both physical and emotional. And I know that I am not alone. These conversations were happening across the country,  in bedrooms, at kitchen tables, in the car on the way to school. Solidarity, parents just trying to hold it all together and find the right path for your family. I want to fist bump every single one of you. We've got this.

I'm not all that worried about my family. Or yours, for that matter. Like I said, we've got this. What I am  concerned about , what kept me awake last night as I processed this most recent attack on decency, were those other families. What are the young people of the other side being taught? What are those kiddos hearing during those bedroom, kitchen table or carpool chats? Which got me thinking.  Are they really hearing anything that much different? Some of them may be hearing hate speech, sure. But I am thinking that many of them are hearing words very similar to what I said this morning. Many of them are probably just like me. A little tired. Drinking cold coffee. Wondering how that window blind came all the way unrolled, again. Moving stuffed animals to find a spot to sit down while absent mindedly rubbing the dog's ears. And then sharing their beliefs. Do I agree with those beliefs? Sometimes. yes, and often no. But what I know for sure is that I cannot change those other parent's beliefs any more than I could change my own. Are there people out there warning their kiddos against people like me? Like you? I can, and should, protect my family from hate. I will always be vigilant to what my little loves are subjected to. But I am not a monster that other parents should warn their children about. And neither are many of those people who hold beliefs different from mine.

Before you shout at me, listen. Think. Ask your friend, your neighbor, your relative holding a different view to share their reasoning. Don't ask this to change their mind. And don't ask it to change your own. Ask it to begin to build a way to a stronger relationship, a stronger family, or a stronger neighborhood. I have friends, neighbors and yes, even family members who I genuinely like and trust around my family yet we are miles apart politically. Or miles apart in how we choose to spend our money, or how we choose to raise our families. Frankly, I am not all that exciting of a person. I like to read and do quiet activities. If everyone I surrounded myself with was just like me, not only would we be the most boring group of people on the planet but no one would grow. And we all know what happens when we stop growing.

We spend so much time telling our children that change comes from within. That they cannot change anyone else except themselves. That they need to lead by example and do what needs done in their world. And that is what we talked about this morning, on that bed, in that dark room with the world waking up around us. We talked about how we didn't change. What we believe hasn't changed. About how we can't expect to change others. About how we can't just talk about it all. We must do. Do. We talked about what we can do, right now. Today. Tomorrow. And we made a plan. Ask a teacher about how her day is going. Be brave and say hello to a neighbor when out walking the dog. Smile more. Slow down. Imagine what, or who, we can see if we stop running everywhere?

When we walked out of that bedroom this morning the sun was beginning to light the rain covered street. The puppy hopped down off her favorite spot on my son's chair, picked up her new blue stuffed monster toy and follow us down the hall. We were met at the bottom of the stairs by the youngest member of our family, wrapped up in his large fuzzy brown blanket, asking for breakfast. Things are currently more black and white in his world and breakfast comes every day at this same time. Instead of shouldering past him or stepping on the edge of the blanket in an attempt to trip his little brother, I watched my oldest child smile at him, tell him he was hungry too, and step aside to let him get to the breakfast table first. Slow down. Smile. Stop running. And breath.

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