For whatever reason, some of the best conversations I’ve had with my children have been in the car. Or truck. Or whatever.
Tonight Cooter and I were on the way home from Evening Prayer together, just the two of us, when he suddenly asked one of THOSE questions.
You know, the ones where you gulp and feel yourself floundering for just the right words because you know, YOU KNOW, that he’s likely to remember your answer for a long, long time.
“Mama, why was there segregation?”
Oh my heart.
As the seconds ticked by the best I could come up with–and this is not a new conversation for us–was to remind him that sometimes people are afraid of people who are different and how some folks with light skin thought they were better than people with darker skin and even, at one point, thought they could own these people.
Once again, he was indignant over this injustice.
“We are all equal, we just have different gifts! Folks need to know that. We all have different things we are good at, but we are all equal.”
Bless that heart. Out of the mouths of babes…..
As he continued sharing his thoughts, it was heart-wrenching to hear him say, “Well, I’m glad that doesn’t happen anymore.” Oh baby boy, how I wish. Then he asked, “Mama, what should I do if someone is being unkind to someone else or is wanting to segregate people? What should I do? Should I just step away from the situation?”
How I wish I didn’t need to have these conversations with my child, but I’m so grateful he wants to have them. That he’s genuinely asking me what is right. I’m treading carefully here though. This is way more important than multiplication or grammar or learning how a bill becomes a law.
So we talked about how the first thing you do when you know something is wrong is you stand up and say so. Stand up for what you believe is right.
“Like you do?”
I searched my memory for what on earth he was referring to. He continued, “So my friends and I should make signs and stand up to let folks know what is right?”
Oh bless. He’s thinking of the vigils for the people on death row. He’s really been paying attention. (Both wonderful and frightening, that.)
“Sure, buddy. That’s a start.”
He talked about his friends and then, “You know, sometimes when I’m with my friends, and I hold back the way I’m feeling, sometimes it feels heavy on my shoulders.”
I know that feeling too, bud.
So we talked about the best way to share our thoughts and feelings with other people. It was a good talk. Hard, because I didn’t know he felt like he had to do that when he was with his friends, but a good one.
Good because he wanted to talk to me.
My little guy and I shared some really important things on the ride home tonight.
And it only takes us fifteen minutes to get home, y’all.
He’s a deep thinker for such a young fella. But it didn’t take him long to swing it back around and start singing, “It was a Sunday morning and I ate four doughnuts, doughnuts, doughnuts, and it felt great…..until it didn’t…..”
And…..he’s back. My class clown. My self-proclaimed future comedian.
Tonight I’m thankful for rides home in the dark when hearts are open and shared. I’m thankful for the one who talks, and that I can listen. I love the deep conversations and the silly songs. Because they are both very much a part of this journey we are on. And it takes both to make it beautiful.
Love to all.