Wish Lists and Gifting
On a brief stroll through my school's neighborhood this afternoon, I saw a mother riding a 3-person bike with her 2 children riding with her. They pedaled in family unison, knees raising and lowering in a hypnotic rhythm that lulled me into memories of my own childhood. I was in my 20's before I ever rode a tandem bicycle, but my mother made sure to do all kinds of interesting things with her brood. For just a moment, I wished all little brown children could have these experiences, even if only once.
My Mini-Me cousin would come to stay with me for weekends and I'd always ask her what she wanted to do. The poor girl had never really done too much of anything so "I don't know" was her typical response. As she got older she added "...what is there to do?" Hearing those words always made me sad. It became my quest to introduce her to things she hadn't done before, tasted before, seen before. When my sister and I were little, the question had to be about specific activities and we could either try it because it was new, or we could say "yes" or "no" with some real authority on whether we liked it or not:
Would you like to go camping with us next weekend?
No thank you. Mommy took us and I lost my flip flop in the stream and I got a leech between my toes. I don't like sleeping in tents, 'cause it was cold. If you go stay in a cabin, I want to go.
I want brown children to be able to do more than distinguish a Nike swoosh from the 3-stripes of Adidas or how to estimate the dollar value of an outfit on sight. Estimation is moving up Bloom's Taxonomy in higher order thinking skills, and real world application is the point, but come on!
Thank you for devoting your personal time and money to making sure we had some worthy childhood experiences. You've enabled your girls to be able to set higher bars for ourselves and those we allow in our lives. Your rules were strict, but fair, and the rewards were great. Thank you for taking us
to the top of Pikes Peak and into the Rockies
to walk through Native American ruins
on long road trips
to Disney Land and World
to plays (real theater)
to visit elder relatives
horse back riding
basketball & baseball games
restaurants spanning foods around the globe
to Panamanian house parties
to college campuses
to the grocery store
to see foreign films
to feed geese
to pick apples, strawberries, and crowder peas
over Mama Bobbie's
to bakeries and wine shops
to brunch before we understood what the word meant
to barber shops, etc...
Love, Your daughter
A lot of that stuff may seem "regular," or like stuff ANYONE can do (and there was plenty more that we did). That's because it is, and you can, but for some reason, many children are not having even the seemingly most banal experiences. They have no vocabulary for the great many things available to do even in their neighborhoods, living as virtual shut ins provided plenty of virtual experiences through gaming technology and over exposure to television.
I'm not trying to tell anyone what to do for or with their child/ren. I'm just saying what's passing for life for some children just makes me sad. These years are golden and not every child will get to look back at his/her childhood with the same joy that I clearly do. If I could, that would be the gift I'd give to them all--the gift of good memories.
To my Munchkin Mommy--your life is GOOD, girl. I hope you remember it as such.
In the meantime...I'll continue to do what I can in my "classroom."
Watch me move.