Teaching My Kids About "Black Lives Matter" ... and Heaven and Hell and Anne Frank.Friday, July 8, 2016
Tonight, Roger went to a candle light vigil to honor the victims of this week’s violence in Baton Rouge, Minneapolis, and Dallas. While he was gone, it was my job to try to carefully explain to my children what is happening right now in our nation. Maybe it’s “too deep” to expose children to, but their parents are activist and we are raising them to be activist full of empathy and compassion too.
How in the world do you try to explain racism to young children?
How do you try to explain to them that their white skin gives them privilege?
When they’re afraid, how do you help them explain that because they are white, they aren’t even the main target of racism and violence?
And how do you make them feel safe?
It did not go well. I’m sure I said all the wrong things. I am certain there were a million different ways I could have explained it better…
Lucy sobbed. Teddy hid his face. London kept playing with plastic dinosaurs and eating Doritos…
“I don’t understand why people hate, mommy,” Lucy sobbed. “Why does it matter what skin color we have? Why does it matter what people look like? It only matters how we treat people! Who invented guns and knives?!” She shrieked. “They kill people! Why would you invent something that kills people?!”
“Power, I guess…” I mumbled. “I don’t know.”
I would try to reach for her and comfort her but she kept jumping off the couch and grabbing her nightgown and twisting it in her hands. Her eyes were slits and tears were just pouring down her face. “I don’t want people to hurt! I don’t want people to be sad! Put yourself in their shoes!”
And it was just so bad…
I wanted to take all the words back and make their world pretty and safe and secure again.
I wanted to cry and hold Lucy and tell her that everything in this nation was perfect…
I didn’t want them to be afraid.
“What can we do, Lucy?” I finally asked. “How can we make this better? How can we help people be safe?”
“I don’t know. It’s so bad. There’s so much. I’m just a kid,” she cried. “I want to be a missionary! I want to travel and give people the love of Jesus!”
And then my throat filled with fire and tears and emotion…
Teddy suddenly turns to me and asks very seriously, “How do you know when you’ve discovered to the love of God?”
I stared at him for a long moment. “You know know God loves you, Teddy?”
“Do you love Him?”
“Then you’ve discovered the love of God. It’s very easy.”
He smiled a little. “And we just love people because God loves us?”
I nodded. “That’s how we change things. That’s how we take away the darkness. That how we stop the violence. Love.”
Friends, Lucy went to bed still in tears. She was still heartbroken but we agreed that at least we now know what our job is. We talked about loving the orphans, the widows, the poor and the lonely. We talked about grieving with those who are grieving, feeding those who are hungry, and giving water to those who are thirsty. We talked about loving all people regardless of who they are, what they look like, who they love, who they worship, or what color their skin is. We talked about loving people that don’t love us…
And, somehow, we talked about ghosts and death and heaven and hell…
It was exhausting.
And all I want to know is…
Why I didn’t go to the vigil and left Roger to cover all of this conversation with the kids.
My brain is burnt.
My heart is overwhelmed…
But I am sure as heck glad that conversation is over for now.
This week, I have to explain to Lucy who Anne Frank is…because she asked about that too. I didn’t have the strength to tackle that one. I can’t stand to think of the tears she will shed when she learns Anne’s story.
Pray for me, folks.
Pray for me.