Thursday, December 13, 2007

Tiny Teachers

I have a very strong conviction to teach my children to accept diversity in this shrinking world. While I may not know the details of how or what I'll teach them, I feel it is important for my kids to be socially educated, compassionate and empathetic. Of course there are moral limitations and I'm still trying to define what those should be as my children grow.

Sometimes kids turn the tables and teach us instead.

I took Bella to an indoor playground last week after school. We arrived about the same time as two other little girls about her age.

One girl was named Kylie and she was African American. The other little girl looked as if her face had been beat up by concrete with cuts all over, swollen eye, nose and lip. Her name was Sarah.

Bella doesn't have many African American girls in her school, I'm not sure why. She hardly ever sees children with injuries or disabilities (I had to double-take with Sarah because I first thought she had a facial deformity).

But after formally introducing themselves and giving each other the once over, the girls gleefully ran off towards the slide, chatting non-stop.

The discussion?

How they got out of their mommy's tummy. A universal topic.

None of the girls pointed out each other's differences or even Sarah's poor beat-up little face. There was no staring or grimacing. There was immediate acceptance and willingness to be best friends for the 15 minutes we were there. They hugged, held hands, cooed over Ava and told silly secrets.

It was wonderful to see and I was proud of all three girls. I know social exchanges won't always be so pleasant or without judgement, but I hope I can teach my girls to always be kind, think before they speak and not stare at those who may be different from them. Then again, they will probably learn more by example and that is the most important lesson of all. For all of us parents.


March Day said...

It is truly amazing to see how kids are so accepting of each other at that age. We all could learn a lesson or two from 3-year-olds!

T-girl said...

I love that kids see peoples hearts! I always smile when Joci takes to someone right off, however if she is taken back by someone I have found it is best to head her warning! LOL Too bad we lose this as we age!

Jennboree said...

It's interesting how we lose touch with our instincts, isn't it?

T-girl said...

You know Buddist have a thing about "beginners mind." I am working on finding mine again right now but basically they say that when you start to see things in a light of "I know" you lose it. They strive to see the world in a "beginners mind!" One of the things I just read about this was telling a study where they asked a bunch of kindergardeners what they saw when the teacher drew a dot on the board. The answers ranged from a bug, the top of a telephone pole, candy etc. They then asked a bunch of highschools what they saw. For a moment the group stayed silent then someone yelled out "a dot!" Everyone laughed but I think you see the point it makes. Life is what you choose to see in it and your experiences, both neg and possitive, influence your thoughts- if you are not careful you can lose out on seeing all the wonderful things that can be made out of the dot. THIS is the lesson I am trying to take from Joci everyday... and I tell you finding your beginners mind after a lifetime of an "expert" mind is HARD! LMAO Sorry this post reminded me of that story when I read it and I had to come tell you! ;)

Amanda Sue said...

it is amazing how kids go YEARS without noticing skin color. i remember teaching pre-k and having kids say "she is my brown friend" or something sweet and innocent like that.

i hope that having dillon around my students will help him develop the ability to look beyond the outside to what is within.

T-girl said...

OMG Amanda Sue, I remember being in 4th grade and confused as to why they were teaching us about "black & white relations." I remember my best friend was of African decent and I honest to God had NEVER noticed that he was "different" in anyway but that he was a boy, to me that was how he was made and I never really thought about it. I remember being extreemly confused and actually asking "Is Cory's blood the same color as mine?" during that class. I had honestly never thought of differences nor cared and it shocked me that others did. I went home extreemly upset, it was seriously a shock to me that we were "different," I just never noticed. (call me slow right?) In some ways I am kind of mad at that teacher (who was wonderful btw) because to be honest I am not sure I would have ever thought about those "differences" had it not been brought up.

Man I am all kinds of chatty on your blog the last few days aren't I? Take the internet away from the girl for a week and she seems to think she has to make up for lost time! LMAO

louann said...

That is so wonderful.

If our perceptions remain that way until we are adults, I really think this world would be a btter place.

Jemmers said...

Sounds like you are doing a great job in teaching your children.

Right now, I am trying to do the same for some adults in my life. Sad, really!