Bug: “Mama, what does that sign say?”
Me: “Love Trumps Hate.”
Bug: “Oh. Well, we’re not supposed to say “hate” are we?”
Me: “…. … No bug. You’re right. We’re not supposed to say hate.”
Bug: “And why is everyone holding a sign?”
Me: “Well honey, everyone here is saying you’re (pause, collect thoughts)… supposed to be nice to everyone. (Pause, reach for more analogies that a 4 year old can understand) Someone (oh you know, the most important position in the world), said some things that made other people not feel good, so we’re here today and all of these people are here today to say that’s not okay. That we have to be nice to everyone whether they’re short or tall, or have white skin or brown skin or purple skin…”
Bug: “Mama! No one has purple skin. But I would like to see that.”
Me: “Me too Bug. Me too.”
Yesterday was important for so many reasons. Not the least of which it showed all of us the power that we still have within each of us to stand up for what we believe in.
But it was extraordinarily hard to explain to my preschooler. I could have gone to the march by myself but I thought it was so important that my girls be there. The 2 year old game for the adventure but the 4 year old is in that exactly tricky age. She’s old enough to know that something is up. But young enough not to understand any of the nuances that get us in these positions as adults.
God knows that hard enough on a daily basis – every single day is a battle to mold these minds to be open minded and tolerant and kind. In our household we choose not to say “hate” about anything, under the premise that there is sometime redeeming about everything if we look hard enough.
So how to explain to a child that not only are there people out there that think it’s perfectly fine to hate anything they choose to, but that they are now in a position to impose the implications of those views on the rest of us.
How do you sit your child on your lap while the Inauguration is happening and explain to her that the lady is white was running for president but lost, while that man with the orange hair is now running the country. My more tolerant self doesn’t want to teach my child to hate or fight. My practical self can’t hide the disdain in my voice, can’t bring myself to call him our president. He is the president. Nothing more. Certainly a lot less.
Kids are smart. They’re savvy and wise. They can pick up on vibes we never knew we were sending. And sadly, I think our children will need to be made aware of what’s going on. They’ll need to be taught to stand up for themselves and for others. And to take articulate, well thought out stances on anything they believe in.
But back to the march. It was only when I was standing there, trying to put this march into terms she could understand that I realized how fundamentally important this was.
It wasn’t about women. Or gays, or immigrants or or or.
At the core it was about each of us coming together to say that we have to be nice to everyone else. Whether they look like us or live like us or love like us. Or not.
We fight for those that cannot. We stand for those that cannot.
My heart broke a little standing on that little patch of road, under that sunny winter sky. Because already my little girl needed to understand something that I still can’t. She needed to know that yesterday was important. And it was important that we were standing there.
She went back to pointing out signs she thought were the prettiest (the rainbow heart or pink balloons), and I took my cracked heart and continued to march. So that I could my part in raising strong, capable and kind girls. Whose rights would remain intact.
With the hope that by the time they can be president, “hate” really will be the bad word it is.