X looked down at his new baseball bat and said, “Hey Mom, my bat’s made in China. Why is everything made in China?” I looked at him with a gleam in my eye and said, “Do you want the long answer or the short answer?” He said, “I’m going to get the long answer, aren’t I?”
I love a good teachable moment. And, for me, EVERYTHING’s a teachable moment. Try as I might, I can’t give the short answer. I just can’t say, “Because.”
The answer has to include: the Industrial Revolution, child labor laws, sweatshops, macro-economics, and social action. “Hey mom, why is the road so bumpy?” has to become a detailed discussion of taxes, democracy, and lack of infrastructure in third world nations.
It’s really quite exhausting. It kinda’ makes my head hurt. But, I’m committed to raising Thinkers. It’s important to me that my boys think about why things are the way they are. How their world got to be the way it is. I want them to understand important concepts and big ideas. And, I want them to be able to understand where they fit in to all of it.
High expectations for an eight and a five year old, I know. And I suspect, I’m either creating little know-it-alls or grown men who give horribly taciturn answers in rebellion of their “mom who never shut up.”
I love teaching. It’s why I love spending time with adolescents and children. I love the moment when you see it all click in their brain. When all of the sudden, after a moment with you, something all becomes abundantly clear. The students that I work with often come to me with little understanding of social issues. They seem to live these issues every day, but don’t quite understand the idea of social justice or their ability to enact change in their community.
There’s nothing better than when a student comes to you and is finally able to verbalize the injustices that are in their lives. When the blanket, “it’s not fair” becomes something more. When it becomes an understanding of empowerment and responsibility. There’s nothing that I love more than being able to usher that new understanding into action.
Kids are kinda’ awesome. I mean really awe inspiring. The way their brain is growing and changing and molding into fully formed big people. And it’s so important to take our responsibility in this growth seriously. The behavior you model, that way you react, the things you feel are important will be the materials that builds the psyche of the children around you. I hope to give my children and my students the tools they need to be good adults.
Good adults. Not smart adults, or fun adults, or strong adults, but GOOD adults. Good adults means more than that, and all of that. Good adults means being thoughtful, responsible, kind, aware, mature.
Am I always a good adult? Not really. But, I sure as hell try. And I think about it… a lot. When I make a mistake, I acknowledge it. I try to learn from it. I try to do it better the next time. And that’s all I can ask of the young people in my life. That they are constantly learning, and growing, and trying harder. I hope that I am showing them how to work at it; how to constantly grow and develop; how to be better, every day.
Back to my own children. Are they sick of me yet? A bit. But, they’re good boys. Nice kids. Kids who think about others and try hard. Kids who challenge themselves and are responsible for their actions. I hope they’re internalizing these behaviors, that they’re building a foundation that they can grow upon. At least, I hope that they know enough to think before they buy everything from China.