I like babies. I’ve spent the past few months snuggling the heck out of one of my friend’s newest bundle of joy. It makes me so happy just to sniff his head, make him smile, and hold him for hours.
Sometimes it makes me cranky that the choice to have more children was taken away from me.
But then I take my two older sons on a one mile run and we talk about:
Politics. Racism. Homophobia. Kindness. More politics. Things they’ve heard on the television. Things they’ve heard from their friends. The importance of respecting others’ bodies and spaces. Pokemon. Books we’ve read. More Pokemon. Fall. Winter. Christmas. Halloween. Birthdays. More Pokemon.
We talked the entire mile. I normally don’t like to talk while I’m running. I’m not a great group runner, because I like to zone out while I’m beating the pavement. But this was new and different, and I really, really liked it.
Later that evening, my husband started giving much-needed hair cuts as picture day awaited the next day. BigBrother came into my bedroom while I cleaned up some of my daily mess. He wanted to talk more about politics, ethics, and the weird lines in between. I did my best to give answers that didn’t just explain why we, the parents, feel certain ways about things. I tried to paint a bigger picture about how they’re being raised, to make him think beyond today or tomorrow or the vote they’re supposedly doing in November to see who wins the kids’ vote for this Presidential election.
It’s hard living in Rural Ohio sometimes.
Oh, I love it so hard. I live one house from the country. We have beautiful sunsets. Our neighborhood acts as a little safe Mecca for our four person family unit. I love my affordable home. I like our Pokestops. I love the friends I’ve made. I love the little coffee shop on Friday mornings. I love sitting on front porches, morning and night. I love the four seasons.
But I was raised in a small town and I live in a small town. We’re not a hot spot for diversity or even diverse thinking. When you do something different, like something different, wear something different, you’re then labeled Capital-D Different. Not raised here, I’ve already been labeled The Outsider, the One From Away. Other parents aren’t quick to accept my kids because they didn’t know me growing up—and I look, act, and speak differently than they do, so therefore my children must also be Capital-D Different.
Which, yeah. I am Different. For many reasons. But it’s not my sons’ fault.
He shared that some people haven’t been kind when he talks about politics. I told him that he doesn’t actually have to share his vote out loud, that he can hold it close; I also informed him he shouldn’t be ashamed of his views. It feels discouraging to explain how it’s okay for his friends to have differing opinions when they’ve already told him he’s wrong for having the differing one. He’s ten. They’re ten. Everyone chill.
I then presented third party candidates to him.
“I’ve never heard of them.”
I told him to ask if they were letting the students vote for any third party candidates. I’d bet money they don’t.
All this is to say that, yes, babies still make me all melty. I will hold any baby you want me to hold. Or I might even steal a baby upon walking into a room. But give me a kid who wants not only to talk politics but to discuss behavior of others so he better understands why people act the way they do? Yeah, I’m all in.