You guys, this post started out as a mushy birthday post about my son…Today he turns 9. Nine seems like a big number to me. Maybe it’s because he’s taller than the average 9 year old. Maybe it’s because he’s always seemed wise beyond his years. I can’t put my finger on the exact reason but it feels like he recently matured a bit and I’m watching the “little boy” shrink away faster than I care to admit.
I’ve been doing a lot of explaining to this 9 year old this week (since Sunday), and not about good things. I got a call the other day that a former co-worker passed away suddenly at the age of 58, he had recently retired and was just beginning to enjoy the fruits of his labor. He was kind and funny and professional and a true gentleman. My son was in the car when I got the call so naturally being the inquisitive child that he is, he had a lot of questions. Who is this person Mom? How do you know him? Was he sick? How is his family? Will you go to his funeral? Lots of explaining.
Last night while he went to say good night to his dad who was working in our home office, he asked what story he was following on the news. (My husband is in the news business, so current events are a daily conversation in our house). It was just before the Ferguson jury announcement and the pictures on the TV were quite compelling for a 9 year old. My husband, who is the absolute best at explaining difficult situations to our kids, was doing a fantastic job, but once the decision was announced, he had to focus on his work. This left me having to finish the story…
Here’s the thing. I shouldn’t have had to finish that story, it never should have been a story to begin with. I shouldn’t have to tell my 9 year old that a kid died at the hands of a police officer, and I shouldn’t have to tell him about the racism, the riots and the aftermath either. (I kept those parts out BTW). We live in a society where it’s all too easy to shoot first, explain later. But guess what, that’s the wrong way to think. I cannot believe there are human beings out there who think this is ok. I cannot believe that there are people out there who think other people’s lives are not as valuable as their own. WHO are these people? How were they raised? Who taught them that this is all acceptable?
It starts at home right? The way we choose to raise our children is exactly that, a choice. I know we like to practice the golden rule in our house “treat others the way you want to be treated”. The topic of race never comes up because it’s not a thing. Everyone is treated the same way. I wish it was that easy for everyone. It has to change. We teach our kids to stand up to bullies. We teach them to believe in the good guys. We teach them to be kind, good, compassionate people. We hope and pray they grow up to make a difference and stand by their beliefs. We watch a community fraught with rage over a senseless tragedy and we lash out and point fingers. It has to change. It has to stop. I believe in good. I believe that if we all make an effort to change that we can. Our community is screaming for change can’t you see it? Can you imagine a world where stories like Ferguson don’t happen? I can. We have to come together and make a change. I don’t want to have to be telling him another horrible story on the eve of his 10th birthday. #blacklivesmatter….#alllivesmatter.