It comes as no surprise, with the observance of Martin Luther King, Jr. day fast approaching, that my children are learning about him and his legacy. Last week Stinker - my kindergardener - had a school project about dreams. As a family we were to talk about our dreams for our family, for our community and for the world. Stinker's project coincided with one of Sweetie's cub scouts projects, in which he was to make a poster about what it means to be a good citizen. I feel like I know my kids pretty well, but these kinds of projects always reveal delightful little facts about my kids.
Stinker's dream for our family is that his Gigi - my mother - wouldn't be old anymore. I know he's close to her, that he loves her, and that he knows she's old, but it never occurred to me that he might have some understanding about what it means to be old. I'm not sure if he does or not because I didn't press him for details, but the comment resonated with me. Stinker's dream for our community is that everyone has a warm place to sleep. This is pretty deep stuff for a 5 year old and I was so proud to discover such compassion. (He IS a stinker, after all.) And then he blew my mind: His dream for the world is No War. I don't talk about war very often, and as far as I know The Ex does not either, but it's apparent that whatever discussions have occurred around him have sunk in a little bit. I must confess that I have told them - Sweetie especially - that ever since they have been on this earth we have been at war with countries far away.
Sweetie has similar compassionate sensibilities. His dream for our family is that his mother will live a long and happy life. (Are you saying "AAAAwwww" yet?). Seriously. Isn't that the sweetest thing you've ever heard? (Now you see why I have dubbed him Sweetie in this blog!) His dream for our community is that everyone has enough to eat. (I've started a non-profit that will provide weekend food bags for food insecure kids at his school so we talk about hunger quite a bit in our home.) His dream for the world is peace. I'm verklempt.
For his cub scout poster, we talked a lot about what it means to be a good citizen and his compassion came out again. He said things like "be nice to the planet" "follow the Golden Rule" "Honor my country". The poster ended up including an earth in the center, and then it was surrounded by symbols of things he thinks are important: recycling, a police badge (obey all laws), an American flag, seeds (to grow his own food), trees (to save the ones we have and plant more of them), and a "True American Hero" badge because "that's what I want to be when I'm a grown up." I was very proud of the ideals he chose, in part because they align (at least a little) with the ideals that I and their father believe in, but also because these are very mature thoughts for an 8 year old boy obsessed with Legos and video games to have.
So this morning, Stinker and I were snuggling in bed before it was time for me to get up and I had the news on the television (as I do every morning). The station was showing clips from President Obama's speech yesterday at the memorial service in Tucson. When he talked about wanting to live up to Christina Green's expectations and to live in the world she imagined, he emphasized with his arm and the crowd applauded. Stinker looked at me and said, "Mom, is that Dr. King?" Wow. What a great reminder that little kids are sponges!