Month: June 2015

Kudos to the World-changers.

It was today’s Supreme Court announcement that inspired this blog post. I think my kids are young enough that they won’t ever fully understand how momentous this day is. In their experience, the only reason people won’t get married, is because they don’t want to.

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We have this cute little picture book, My Name is Not Isabella, by Jennifer Fosberry. It is about a little girl (adorably illustrated by Mike Litwin) who goes through her day imagining she is one or another of her various heroes – er, heroines.

When it is time to catch the school bus, she proclaims “I am Rosa, the greatest, bravest activist who ever was!”

We found ourselves having to explain a couple of tough concepts to the kids. What is an activist? Why would riding a bus make someone an activist?

We wanted to explain this carefully. See, the kids are getting a special kind of education from so many people, and it would be easy for us to undermine it. I’m sure other kids – and adults, too – are getting the same sorts of lessons, and don’t even know it, from people who probably don’t even know that they are teaching.

There are so many of you who might not even realize you are changing the world. Folks that we interact with everyday. Folks we see so often, we forget that at one point, someone considered you “different.” And my kids won’t ever know that. They see you every day. The family down the street who greet us with a wave every day (and give out great Halloween candy). Those two nice ladies at the park who let us pet their dog. The child having a meltdown at the park. The woman breastfeeding in the coffee shop. The deaf lady at the grocery store who has a hug for her regulars. The house across from the mailbox with a pau-kau mirror, and the friends with mezuzot on their doorposts. The lady in the wheelchair who is a one-woman welcoming committee at extra-curricular activities. The family who always brings something on “Celebrate Culture” day. The heavily-accented couple down the street who sit on the porch, and share lemonade and cookies with passers-by on summer evenings. The mom who volunteers for every school event. The dad who helps out in the classrooms and in the safety patrol at school. The man next door with a nice yard. The man who helps with yard work. The teenager who goes for a long walk in the park the same time every day. Regular folks, interacting in regular ways. Y’all are the heroes who are really changing the world. Did you know? Just by being you. My kids don’t see anything as different. Because you have taught them that you are just you.

Kids aren’t the only ones whose perspective I’m thinking of. After a while, the grownups start to see it, too. Someone who might at one point have not necessarily helped one of “those people,” will help their neighbor, because “I know him. He’s good people.”

And, in your own small way, one neighbor at a time, you have changed the world.

I will do my best not to undermine the lessons we are all teaching each other.

I am not strange. I am just not normal. – Salvadore Dali

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/3486558-my-name-is-not-isabella?from_search=true&search_version=service_impr

This is not something to be proud of.

confederate battle flag

I don’t care where you’ve got it tattooed. I don’t care about your bumper sticker, the hood of your car, the shade in your window, or the flagpole in your yard. I don’t care what battle your 5 times great-granddaddy fought in.

This is not something to be proud of.

This is not even the Confederate Flag. It was the battle flag of General Lee and the army of northern Virginia. It was used by civil war veterans’ groups after the war, but it got into popular usage in the 1940’s – as a symbol of segregation. This is a flag whose current popularity was built by hatred.

The legislature of South Carolina has – unintentionally, no doubt – done an excellent job of illustrating the perversity of this symbol. A confederate battle flag flies at the South Carolina statehouse, at a monument to confederate soldiers. It is affixed to its pole. It cannot be lowered. It will never sit at half staff. It may never be allowed to show deference or respect to anyone – even on Confederate Memorial Day. I would go so far as to say that this sort of refusal to offer respect to its own history as a battle flag disconnects it irrevocably from that heritage.

I cannot respect anyone or anything that does not show respect to anyone else. Period. And I will teach my children the same.

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This is the actual flag of the Confederate States of America.

1st conf flagIf you want to fly a visual symbol of history, fly this one.

I am all for replacing the publicly displayed battle flags with this one. But only if we publicly call it what it is. Announce it loudly. Pass official resolutions on the state and federal levels. Make this part of the history books. Make it so that every single time anyone looks up this flag, anywhere, this is listed as part of its history:

This is a symbol that we have committed evils on one another. Actions that can never be corrected, and are a stain on our past. This is also a reminder that we must constantly be striving to be better. To remember that we were wrong. To remember that it is in our power to learn from our heritage, and be better people than our ancestors. We are better than our past. And this is a symbol that coming together is not easy. That we must strive to unite ourselves under a quest for decency and respect for one another. That we must all work for our country to be the great one that it should, and can, be.

When the Civil War ended, the Confederate states were not assimilated as conquered territories – though that was considered by more than one Congressional session. They were ultimately readmitted as sovereign states (albeit, with some requirements). It was messy and ugly. But they were readmitted.

To put it mildly – they screwed up, in one of the worst ways possible. But they were readmitted.

This flag should remind us of that, too. We are a country that has had a dark past. We hurt our fellow human beings. We killed each other over whether or not we had the right to hurt each other. But then, we decided to try to stitch ourselves back together, in the hope that it was possible to do so.

It’s a travesty that it has been 150 years, and we are still stitching, and that it is still messy and ugly.

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Under the First Amendment, individuals have the right to free speech. Even it it’s distasteful and hateful. The confederate battle flag cannot be banned. It can’t even be forcibly removed from state houses or state capitols. No matter where it is, we cannot remove it without violating one of the tenants that makes this country great. But we can think about what we are saying to one another when we display it. We can talk to one another about it. We can learn. We can stop accepting it.

This is going to offend somebody. But I’m leaving comments open. Leave a comment. I can’t learn if you don’t explain things to me.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2015/06/19/why-south-carolinas-confederate-flag-isnt-at-half-mast-after-church-shooting/

http://www.politifact.com/punditfact/statements/2015/jun/21/jean-casarez/flying-confederate-battle-flag-south-carolina-half/

http://legal-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/Readmission+of+states

Photo Treasure Hunt

This was just going to be a game to pass some time during the summer, but DH thought it was pretty cool, and suggested I share it.

Our Photo Treasure Hunt.

Our treasure was pretty basic – it was really about the hunt. I buried a dollar’s worth of pennies and some table scatter “crystals” in a baby food jar in the yard. I took a picture of that spot, and also of some various details around the house – twenty five, altogether. Some of the pictures were pretty straightforward, but some included several places where something could be hidden. A couple of locations needed tools – step stools or shovels – and a couple of them required the kids to take a different perspective (like lying on the floor to look at the underside of a table). But that was kind of the point.

Treasure Hunt setup

It’s been raining, so all of the pictures that were going to be hidden outside got sealed into a plastic baggie. A couple of them needed to be taped – I used painter’s tape because it sticks to everything and peels off easily. Then was the really fun part – creating the trail! (I have to admit, this whole activity was a lot of fun for me.) Each clue led to the next, leading up to the “buried treasure.” I didn’t give them a straight line – too easy! Inside, outside, inside again, front yard, back yard, inside again….

I put several clues into the front covers of books that I am hoping will spark Eldest Progeny’s interest. Plus, the geek in me could not think of a more apropos place to begin the hunt:

I there a better starting point for a treasure hunt?

I told them where to start, shared a visual clue (they’d never noticed Treasure Island on the shelf before, and started to get frustrated when they couldn’t find it right away) – and they were off!

IMG_20150618_114614647 IMG_20150618_112250228

Altogether, it took them right at an hour to follow the whole trail of clues and divide their booty.

And they spent another hour taking turns hiding the pictures in a different order, creating new hunts for me, and each other. (For the treasure they were leaving, they wrote love notes. Do I have the best kids ever?)

Big sister is now wandering the house with a camera, looking for places to hide things so we can do it again. Their perspective on where to look for the things in the pictures was different than exactly where I thought they would look, and the pictures they’ve shown me so far are going to make this next hunt even more interesting.

And I’m going to take some more of my own pictures, because now I have even trickier ideas….