Because life
never stops teaching.

Journaling for awareness. Growing for life.

Last week Adeline learned about Martin Luther King Jr. in school. She came home with a story to read aloud to an adult. When we sat down with the book, I readied myself for an essay on a man who believed in freedom—a second grade adaptation of this history.  But I was wrong. Apparently second grade is quite old enough to be ready to learn about hate, because the story outlined all the details of slavery, prejudice, violent riots, and of course, Martin Luther King Jr.’s amazing movement toward peace that ended too soon with his assassination. I was shaking a little as I listened to the soft, gentle voice of my seven-year-old read to me this history. She looked up at a point and asked, “Why black people?” Oh yes, why?! Then she wanted to know what that meant. She began to ask which friends of hers were black, inquiring about a few Indian children and one dark Italian. I tried to explain how the differences were perceived, underlining at one point that it doesn’t matter what we look like… but Adeline finished my sentence for me: “Because beauty is on the inside.” We talked for a while. I kept praying that God would give me the answers, but then I changed my prayer to, “God, please give me the right words,” because of course, answers do not come easily with such immorality. I focused on the progress we’ve made in history, how many amazing men and women have given their lives for freedom, and how important it is to remember that we are all brothers and sisters in this world. Adeline listened, nodded. And then when she abruptly decided she was done talking and wanted to go play, I was left feeling slightly undone. It is such a strange thing to literally witness the departure of innocence. And yet, as it is necessary to understand our history, I suppose this moment was also a gift—I was glad I was there to help her comprehend a small piece of an enormously perplexing world.

Days have gone by since Adeline and I read the story of Martin Luther King Jr., and though I’ve thought a lot about how she might be processing what she learned, Adeline has not asked any more questions.

Then tonight, the end of a holiday in celebration of Dr. King, we tucked the kids into bed to say our evening prayers. Adeline listed all the family members and loved ones she wanted to pray for, and then paused and added, “And God bless Martin Luther King and all the brave people in the world that make it better!” That was how our day ended. Those perfect words.

It feels like it was just yesterday that Adeline was knee high, reaching out to every new thing with hope and wonder. Perhaps she had to grow up a little this week. Yet, at seven, she still seems so sure of what is right with the world. She is still reaching with hope. She can pull out the most important piece of the story and hold that in her heart. She can lay her head on her pillow and thank God for the people that make her world better. What a gift. I still have so much to learn from my kiddos.

Thank you brave people! I hope you enjoyed the holiday!

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  1. Posted by Elizabeth Havey on Tuesday, January 21st, 2014 As mothers, fathers--we are often asked to take our children into territory that is familiar to us, but scary and foreign to them. Sometimes we hesitate, wanting to keep certain elements of this life in shadow. Yes, how wonderful that you are there to guide your child into this world that is fraught with confusion and often sadness. Again and again, in the parent-child relationship, you are gifts to one another.
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