If America were your baby, how would you help it learn and grow?
Right now it seems America is embracing its toddler years with an embarrassing amount of defiance, whining, and tantrums from all sides. Let me be perfectly clear – I am not setting myself apart – I fully admit that I am just as guilty as everyone else for perpetuating behavior that would have landed me in “time-out” as a child.
Humor me and imagine, for a moment, that we are all kids playing on a playground – the Hillary supporters, the Trump followers, the folks who find themselves lost in a confusing sea of hate. If we were all thrown together on a random afternoon as children and there was name-calling, arguing, threats and bullying – things would escalate pretty quickly. Punches might be thrown and kids might get hurt.
The things you hope to hear parents and teachers saying would be:
“Use your words.”
“We are all friends. Play nicely.”
“Watch out for the little kids. Take care of them.”
“Share and take turns.”
Watching kids play is amazing. There, of course, can be rough-housing and disagreements but, for the most part, they can usually figure out how to work things out on their own.
My kids visit the moon almost every day. If they want to play in a different galaxy or find a new place of wonder and excitement, all they have to do is create it and believe.
Kid adventures are not without bumps in the road…they often disagree and argue over details that the parents and grandparents milling around the slides may find small and tedious. My boys, however, are passionate about their playground travels. They regularly have to figure out that when they work together and play nicely they reach their destination a lot quicker and feel good about it.
My kids, just like every other kid on the planet, are learning how to ask and answer questions like ‘Whose turn is it?’ ‘Who goes first?’ and ‘Where are we going?’ They are learning how to navigate the landscape of their childhood and make it work without getting upset.
There are times, of course, that I have to step in and settle an argument between them or turn something negative into a teachable moment about being nice, sharing and taking care of each other. That’s one of my jobs as a mom – to be there to help them learn and grow into people who make good decisions that positively affect them and the world they live in.
As adults, we may no longer be on the playground but if we do have to play nicely with others. I have faith that we each have the right tools to navigate our world successfully. Whether you are desperate for change or believe that America is already great…in a democracy we must work together. We may not enjoy it and at times it will be a shock to the system but to move our country forward but we must be capable of collaboration for the greater good.
Remember, children are constantly faced with obstacles that, to them, seem insurmountable: the object just out of reach on the kitchen table, spooky shadows dancing on their bedroom wall at night, picking themselves up and moving forward even though they may stumble and fall. Then one day, with sticky fingers they grasp that cup from the kitchen table, they drift off to sleep peacefully beneath the silhouette of a tree branch on their bedroom wall, and they eventually learn to walk without stumbling and falling – they reach their destination smoothly.
It’s a process of growth and learning that brings people to a new stage life. At the most basic of levels – to be human is to experience some success but also to endure a tremendous amount of failure.
Until yesterday, after hearing Hillary Clinton’s concession speech, certain things about this presidential election upset and scared me to the point of sadness and near despair for our country.
We are on the other side of the presidential election now and our only option, as I see it, is to move forward. Do the work. Stand up for those who feel threatened by the outcome of this election. Protect the rights we have painstakingly earned. Be a voice of strength and rationality in the face of racist, sexist, xenophobic and anti-environment policies.
Come together so that we can bring our country forward.