It started last week.
LittleBrother brought home a project he had worked on in school. Let it be known: I am not an overly sentimental mother. My husband and I have often wondered aloud to one another if our children will be angry with us as we have not kept every card they have received, every art project ever created. In fact, we have kept very few of anything. I mean, it’s not as if I haven’t done anything to preserve memories. See also: This blog. But for the most part, I keep some holiday things to use as decorations and very little else.
So when I pulled a white piece of paper out of LittleBrother’s backpack the other day, I didn’t expect that it would catch me off guard. That I would want to hang it in my office. That I would feel a surge of pride in a few blue sequins glued to a piece of copied paper.
Martin Luther King Jr. had a dream of equality and… peace.
Then BigBrother got home from school. Rinse repeat, but with colors and words he wrote on his own.
“Hands are lots of different colors. You can be friends even if you have different skin. Every body can be friends.”
Later, I read through his homework with him — a book about the life and work of Martin Luther King, Jr. An advanced book, it delved a little deeper into the topic than his art project. I found my heart catching in my throat as my seven-year-old read to me about the racial injustices of our country’s history. More than simply “I have a dream that kids will play together,” he read the words and gave voice to the scars of our collective history. Hearing it from him, however basic in his understanding of what he is reading and saying at this age, made the hair on my arms tingle and dance.
“But, it’s just a water fountain, Mommy. Why couldn’t they drink from it?”
Discussions have popped up over the past week about things like rights and water fountains and kids in his school and, finally, a verbalization of the simple fact that his sister’s skin tone does not match his own. I breathe slowly and answer carefully, hoping I am setting the foundation of a greater understanding.
Today’s inauguration seemed fitting.
As Richard Blanco read his amazing poem, my tears fell. The beauty of his words mixed with the truth and weight of those same words hit me hard. We’ve done so much, and still have so much left to do. And yet, we are always — always — under one sky. Together. To teach my sons this concept, that we are together under that one sky trying to do what we feel is right, is something I don’t take lightly. It is a responsibility I hold dearly, that I aspire to — for fear that if I don’t get this one right, I will have let down future generations. I want to teach them to respect, to honor.
I look at their faces and I feel the weight of the dream, the charge to do better.
I want to teach them to be the light, to be the love that this world so needs.