To My Child After the Grown-ups Failed

In Intentional Living, Parenting by Jenn1 Comment

Dear Baby,

It’s taken me almost a week to write this post, partly because you haven’t slept particularly well since last Wednesday. (Are you regressing to the newborn stage in solidarity with our country setting itself back to 1952? Making Fire Monkey great again?!) But mostly because I have been struggling to find words, and I’ve decided that talking to grown-ups is a bit too hard right now, so I’m going to talk to you. One, you can’t talk back yet (but remember that respectful dialogue between equals is very important, son), and two, it is truly you and your tiny comrades who carry my hopes and dreams for change.

I’m glad you are too young to understand the fear and pain that so many people are feeling right now. But I worry because you look too much like me and not enough like your daddy. I don’t want you to ask why you look different from the other kids. I don’t want people to assume they can cheat off you at school and you won’t say anything. I don’t want people to ask where you’re really from. I don’t want you to be called gook or chink or ping pong ching chong. I don’t want people to tell you to go back to where you came from.

But I can’t stop any of those things from happening. I can’t keep you at home forever, and anyway I shouldn’t have to and I don’t want to. You deserve to live in a world where all of God’s children and all God’s creation are treasured and honored. If I can do nothing else as your mother, I want to teach you one non-negotiable belief. You already know that you matter to Mommy and Daddy and a legion of other people who love you to the moon and back. From the security of that love, I want you to live out the truth that all lives matter. Take this literally, son, and take it more seriously than anything else in your life. Black lives matter. Brown lives matter. Asian lives matter. Muslim lives matter. Christian lives matter. Jewish lives matter. Hindu, Buddhist, atheist, Pastafarian lives matter. Immigrant lives matter. Refugee lives matter. Gay lives matter. Trans lives matter. Poor lives matter. Differently abled lives matter. Exploited lives matter. Female lives matter. Young lives matter. Never forget or ignore the basic underlying humanity in every person you meet, even (especially?) if they forget and ignore yours.

If I can do nothing else as your mother, I want to teach you some important skills, way more important than how to fill out a Punnett square (although that is cool and super fun and will come in due time). How to listen without an agenda. How to look for similarities before differences. How to be curious about those who are different from you instead of afraid. How to speak for those who have no voice. How to think and read critically. How to disagree respectfully. How to share your thoughts honestly without starting a fight. How to hear different beliefs and opinions without feeling threatened. How to let go of the need to be right and the need to have the last word. How to admit your imperfections without using them as excuses for inaction. How to say and hear, “I don’t know,” and be okay with it. How to love fearlessly even when it’s hard.

Because in the last few weeks and months and weeks, Fire Monkey, the grown-ups failed at all of these things. And so Master Yoda was right: fear led to anger, anger led to hate, and hate is leading to suffering. But a poor fisherman who followed an oppressed Jewish carpenter from the wrong side of the Roman Empire two thousand years ago was also right: love casts out fear. And we’ll start that at home. Because the pretty tall immortal elf lady was right too: Even the smallest person can change the course of the future.

By the power of Yoda, Jesus, and Galadriel, go and change the world, my fierce little love.

-Mama

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