Car Conversations

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.

FREE_high_resolution_cars_driving_at_night_creative_commons_attribution_(9368836860)

By Pink Sherbet Photography from Utah, USA [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Time to Move To Someplace Special

Today our Princess read “Goin’ Someplace Special” by Patricia McKissack aloud to Cooter and me.  It’s part of her Living Literature Grammar program.  She reads a new story each week.  This week this is the story.

In it Ms. McKissack tells the story of ‘Tricia Ann who wants to travel to a place where all are welcome, no matter their skin color.  As she makes the trip, she encounters signs and comments that are hurtful, intended to keep her “in her place.”  As my littles read the story together, side by side on the couch, Princess stopped.  “Mama, why don’t they want the dark-skinned people to sit with them?  Why are they making them go in different rooms and ride in the back of the bus?”

Before I could get a word out, Cooter said gravely, “Slavery.”

Well, yes.  I explained it as best I could–the way fear of what is different can make folks do things that are irrational and unkind and just plain wrong.  How people were trying to keep folks separate so they didn’t have to face the unknown, and that many never actually tried to get to know people who looked different.

Cooter said, “Yes, Martin Luther King had friends who wouldn’t play with him because he had dark skin and looked different from them.”

I have no idea where he learned that.  He listens way more than I give him credit for.

Princess, who can be such a peacemaker usually, piped up forcefully with, “Those people are making me so angry right now.  That is just wrong.”

Yes, baby girl, it is.

Last Friday we ordered the last of Aub’s books for her history class.  They attempted to deliver them on Sunday.  Because there are actual post offices and facilities open to accept deliveries on Sundays?  I got no idea.

Anyway, today when Princess was reading the book aloud and got so upset, I thought about two of the books we ordered.  One was a study of the Salem Witch Trials in the late 1600’s and another was about the Underground Railroad between 1850 and 1860.

Those joined with this story set in the 1950s had me shaking my head

I hear and read folks commenting that what’s wrong in our country today is that we are moving away from God.  Away from faith and religion.  And church.

And I have to ask myself–when exactly do these folks think we as a country were close to God?

Was it when folks were persecuted for being different and accused of horrible things?  Was it when it was okay, legal, respected and expected for folks to own another human being?  Was it when all were free but folks were kept separate so they’d “know their place?”  When exactly was all well and the country as a whole was walking in the dust of the Rabbi?

Not wanting to pick a fight.  Just something I wonder about when I look at things through my children’s eyes.  None of the hatred and cruelty and fear of others in this country or the world has made sense in the past 238 years since its inception and even before that.  None of it.

Yes, the world is broken.  Yes, people are losing battles for their lives in all sorts of ways.  Yes, there is darkness and pain.

But instead of pointing fingers and blaming it on each other, I think it’s time we try something a little more revolutionary.  Maybe instead of saying people have moved away from God, we should move toward some things.

Move to care.

Move to hold someone’s hand.

Move to listen to the story of another.

Move to offer a shoulder.

Move to open our arms.  And wait.

Move to love.

Now that would really be “goin’ someplace special,” wouldn’t it?

That’s it.  I can’t say I honestly know if our country is moving away from God or not.  All I can worry about is me and where I stand.  And I’m going to try to move.

Love to all.

 

 

 

 

######

This book has stirred some memories and precious ones at that.  ‘Tricia Ann’s grandmother sends her off with two thoughts that remind me of two women I love and dearly miss-my Granny and my Mama.  Two women whose walk was always toward taking care of and loving those around them and those afar. 

When Mama Frances says, “I trust you’ll be particular…..” I hear my own Granny saying just that many, many times.  “Be particular.” 

And when she calls after ‘Tricia Ann and says, “…..act like you b’long to somebody” I hear my own Mama who used to send us out the door with “Act like you are somebody.” 

They are here for me when I least suspect it, and their presence makes me smile. 

And today when our Princess was reading, her dialect was spot on.  She is her Maemae’s granddaughter, reading aloud with feeling, inflection, intonation, and most of all, with a passion for reading and for life.  And that is the best gift of all.