Choosing Sides

Agent J is extraordinarily attuned to social injustices for a ten-year-old whose hobbies include digging for worms, making her own comics, and annoying her little brother. Roughly once a week we will be reading something for school, or talking about current events, and she gets That Look. A strongly worded paper is imminent. 

Like her Momma, Agent J processes confusing, angry, and intense thoughts by writing. In the past several months, she has composed numerous first drafts, all of which I have filed away. Someday we might haul them out again and “use” them for an essay-writing lesson on revision and grammar and such, but for now they are simply her way of organizing her brain when mind-boggling information has been presented. 

Her collection includes positions on LBGT rights, slavery, corporal punishment in schools, and why we still need feminism.

Agent E has always been about following the evidence. At three she wasn’t buying the Santa story. By nine she was helping me find my way out of my own irrational thinking

Her way of processing is to logic her way through it. Does this make sense rationally? What does science say about this? Could this possibly be true? What other explanation could there be? 

Who says you can’t learn from your kids?

I adore these two 

Discussing current political events with my tweens gets more difficult every day. How does one explain the madness that has become the daily news cycle of our country? How can I even begin to guide them to grasp the basics of what is happening when it makes no sense to me either? 

Really all I can do is demonstrate that they should care—even about matters that don’t affect us personally. Why? Because we are decent humans and that’s what we do. I can talk to them about empathy, and how to view a situation through another’s eyes. We can study the laws from an objective standpoint, but also consider how legal doesn’t necessarily mean just.

The most important point I can impart, however, is having a people-first perspective. Yes, there are going to be times when things aren’t clear. Life is full of gray areas, and there’s no way around that.

But if you approach any situation from a place of, What would I say to this person if he or she were sitting in front of me? What would be the kindest response? How could I help them? How would I want someone to treat me if the circumstances were reversed? that’s a good place to start.

We’ve applied this hypothetical thinking and role playing to a number of things. Not just glossed over headlines, but real conversations about immigration, gun violence, church and state separation, abortion, healthcare, institutionalized racism, religious persecution. 

If you think 10 and 12 year olds aren’t ready to talk about that kind of stuff, you’d be wrong. We’re having those conversations now because we have to. This is the the world they are inheriting. It’s never too early for them to be determining what side of history they want to be on.

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