Thursday, January 23, 2014
January 20th is Martin Luther King Day and so obviously Liam has been learning about Dr. Martin Luther King at school. It makes my heart sing when he comes home from school excited to tell me about what he has learned. There is literally very little in this world that makes me happier. A thirst for knowledge has always been one of my highest priorities for my kids and it's hard to instill. So when I snuggled up next to Liam last night in his bed and he started telling me all about Martin Luther King, my first reaction was elation. Hearing someone so little describe something that is brand new to them but old news to you is amazing. It gives you a renewed sense of awe and you end up really revisiting what happened and understanding all over again why it was so special to begin with.
But here comes the bittersweet part. Learning about Martin Luther King means learning about racism. It means learning there are very bad people out there and America has a very dark past. It's a lot to process for a 6 year old. Some 6 year old's might not even fully try to understand it, but of course mine does. Obviously, he wasn't born into this world knowing about racism and we are lucky enough to live in an extremely diverse community so he has often been in the "minority" as far is race is concerned. He asked me so many questions. He wanted to understand why the brown people couldn't go to school with the white people. He wanted to know why the police used the water hoses on the brown kids. He wanted to see a picture of the man who shot Martin Luther King. He asked about slavery. He asked to see MLK's speech and about Rosa Parks.
I know they have to learn about this stuff. It's important. But it's also a tipping point for me because I can see my sweet, innocent boy starting to learn about this world in ways that he hasn't had to before. He's learning that we aren't all good people and that some people are capable of very bad things. But you know what? He is also learning that just because some people tell you something is acceptable, that doesn't necessarily make it so. He is learning that for all the bad people, there are very strong and brave people. And I can live with that.