Sunday, January 18, 2009

Steps in a Decent Direction of Sorts

I wanted today to be more than a day off. I wanted the kids to know why they had a day off. I wanted them to FEEL the reason they had the day off. I want them to know that they can make a difference. I want them to want to make a difference. I want them to make a difference.

We started our day by watching the "I have a dream" speech on CNN. Examining their blank stares, I arrived at the conclusion that kids these days(I can't believe I just wrote 'kids these days') cannot actually register television in 'black and white'. I don't think they heard a word.

Next, we went downtown and participated in the annual Unity March and Community Program. It was crowded and we couldn't find a place to park. We missed the march, but made it in time to hear excerpts from Dr. King's speech read by a charismatic local pastor named Happy. A microphone was passed around to members of the group who wanted to share what this day meant to them. It was inspiring. I believe the kids were inspired. It was live and in color, so I am satisfied that they actually digested some of it this time.

A wide variety of nonprofit agencies set up display booths/tables at the downtown mall to provide information about community resources and volunteer opportunities. After being moved by the speeches, we strolled by the booths, hoping to find our calling in community/global participation.

Many stories and myths have been circulated about the irrational and ridiculous fear that some people have of clowns. I am somehow similarly paralyzed by booths...any kind of booths....booths at art fairs, food booths, carnival booths, phone booths...SIDE NOTE:booth is a really weird word. I have rummaged through buried childhood experiences trying to resuscitate a particular childhood trauma that may have resulted in this aversion.

When I was 8 years old, I was hit by a car on my bike. Luckily, I only suffered torn pants and buttockal road burn. The driver of the car made sure I was still alive and drove away. I was too afraid to tell my mother what had happened and slipped in the house and hid my disfigured jeans. Okay, so maybe this experience has absolutely no correlation to the plague of the booths except to confirm that I have some whacked out fears. Attempting to get close to these booths is like walking against a river current....or like trying to get similar poles on a magnet together....I am instantly repelled. My heart starts pumping audibly, my hands get cold and clammy, and my tongue enlarges.

How can I expect my children to understand self-empowerment if I allow myself to be disempowered by my fears? How can I change the world if I can't overcome a ludicrous insecurity? Robotically, I took a gulp of "unboothinated" air, held my breath, and stomped to the booths, snatching up flyers and newsletters. I actually spoke to one of the booth attendants and signed a petition for making the city more bicycle friendly. I made progress today.

During lunch, we discussed things that we would like to change in the world. Savanna mentioned animal rights and hunger. Emmy wants to help with pollution. It was a good day.

The sun actually made an appearance in Spokane yesterday for the first time in a while. I hope that the ability to affect change isn't in direct correlation with amount of sunlight exposure during the winter months. If so, we are doomed to failure.


melissa said...

You are the very best of mamas! I will have to discontinue reading at this rate. I am unworthy. Good job at being so involved and proactive towards your children.

carrith said...

Three cheers for you. I needed someone to remind ME why the post office was closed.

(I can't approach booths either. I think it is a fear of commitment somehow)

Kaerlig said...

You did a better job with the day than I did. I forced my kids into doing me the service of cleaning their rooms. That took about half the day. The other half was spent trying to do something worthy but falling flat.

However, the importance of MLK day and Inaguration Day isn't lost on the kids.

Joal said...

Nice light/sun metaphorical tie-in at the end. If I remember right, Dr. King used a lot of light/darkness metaphors in his "I Have a Dream" speech.

Dean said...

Nice work facing your boothism. If it is any consolation, I too, find them rather awkward.

And by the way, is "buttockal" really a word?

Vanessa said...

No, buttockal is NOT a word. I typically invent one word in each of posts. A little bit creative and a lot bit dumb.