Thursday, April 29, 2010

Seen on President's Day at My Daughter's School

Some of their parents have angry bumper stickers on their cars. Some of their parents believe that health care - and food - are privileges, not rights. Some of their parents might even belong to groups that wish the President dead.

But these first graders have different priorities.

If I were President I would . . .

Empty my bank account and give the money to poor people.
Stop wars.
Help homeless animals.
Every single child in this particular class wanted to be a Good Samaritan. Every single poster talked about helping people or animals in tough situations as a first priority. Every single one.

I loved the novel The Help by Kathryn Stockett. One of the most memorable parts - never elaborated on, never explained, but perfectly clear nonetheless - is black maid/nanny Aibileen's firm insistence on never caring for white children over age eight. The novel is set in Mississippi in the early 1960's and Aibileen is raising her 17th white child. She feeds them bottles and changes their diapers. She plays with them and potty trains them. She sends them off to school. But before they begin to see her as black, as other, before they start treating her as their parents do, she moves on to a new family.

We teach our children about kindness and generosity and manners and giving and thanksgiving. Inclusiveness and thoughtfulness. But we teach them other things, too. I see this in my own children. I see the way my six-year-old stomps off to be alone when she's angry. I hear the way my three-year-old can say "fiddlesticks" as though it's a vile curse. And I know: this, too, they learn at home.

On the balance: what do we teach our kids? And who will they become?


RobMonroe said...

I have many words and no words all at the same time. Grateful to know that the children get it. Saddened that the adults do not.

Kim, Too said...

First graders are so sweet.

I loved The Help, too. What a great book.

Carmie said...

That is great! I love that the first graders are socialists (ha ha ha). I remember when we were kids that we'd wish for "peace on Earth." Nowadays we find that so complicated...why?

I loved "The Help" too...lots of lessons in that little gem. Another great post! :)

Sarahlynn said...

At church, whenever we pray for peace, I cringe a little, appreciating the sentiment but hating the feeling that the idea of wishing for peace is somehow political.

I just finished Gentleman's Agreement, which is about prejudice in America in the 1940's (specifically antisemitism, but also sexism, racism, classism, etc.). Fabulous, wonderful read.

One character's CLICK moment was when she realized how they're teaching inclusiveness to children at school, then making them leave their Jewish friends at the gate when they go into the country clubs with their parents.