This sign hit me with the realization that while we can provide our children with the resources to defend themselves and make good choices, ultimately we have to let them go out there to frolic amongst the good guys and the gators. This includes opening their eyes to not-so-nice things that go on in the world through media and books.
Especially books. They can open up our child’s eyes to what happened in history, just and unjust. Because of books read with my son, we’ve had many open dialogues about slavery, civil rights, oppressive religions, women earning the right to vote, the Holocaust and terrorism.
When my son was six we got a wonderful book called “The Man Who Walked Between the Towers” by Mordicai Gerstein. In 1974, French aerialist Philippe Petit threw a tightrope between the two towers of the World Trade Center and spent an hour walking, dancing, and performing high-wire tricks a quarter mile in the sky. This book paved the way for us to talk in depth about the twin towers and terrorism. My son said at the time he hoped that bad man would be caught and someday, the towers would be rebuilt.
One out of two so far now. I could now report that the bad man had been caught and killed. My son wanted to know how he was found and killed, what happened to his children, his wives, and if this meant this kind of thing would never happen again. I wish. But, I hope in having these discussions (as I hope parents are everywhere) that we are changing the world for the better – one child at a time.
Books. They do open us up to new worlds but also our world to our children. They help us as parents relate the bad and good that have happened throughout history and now to our children. They help us show the poetry in our world events and help us feel sad, joyous, compassionate or outraged.
Books. They open up conversations with my son about life and death and right and wrong. I watch him as he struggles with these issues and tries to figure out his place in the world.
And while I empower my son with information and send him out in there to navigate the battle field of life with as much armor as possible, I hope the good guys outnumber the gators. I hope he witnesses more glory than gore. And even if the gators in disguise try and get him, I hope it is “just a flesh wound!”