The kids and I were at a recent hearing on the banning of plastic bags in our state a few weeks ago and a fellow student activist was asked whether she thought the possible ban would really make a difference in light of all the things going on in our world. Her response was brilliant. She said simply “ a first step is a good step.”
As our children grow into young adults they are moved to sound their voices in the world. If we expose our children to the truth in our raising of them, then they know it to be true. They become fearless when given the opportunity to speak.
We show them what it means to be honest in the way we live our lives. They become empowered from the practice of making choices based on integrity. The learn responsibility by being accountable for their actions.
I have found this to be true with my step daughter, Cassie, who is now sixteen. The experience of blending our families these past six years has provided her a foundation that has given her confidence and allowed her to live passionately in the world. The adults around her are learning as much from her and she is from them.
Raising opinionated children can be exhausting at times. They know they are smart and sometimes can be a bit challenging. They know their opinions will be listened to and respected for the most part so they feel free to give them, and frequently.
Some days I dream of silence where I can hear my own thoughts without constant interjections and interruptions. At random moments I declare mandatory meditation where all incessant chatter must stop. Ah, peace and quiet for a few minutes anyway. Enough for me to gather my thoughts and regain my focus.
Growing kids need opportunities to speak and be heard. I have to remind myself that they are merely working out their ideas, building their vocabulary and weaving the concepts introduced to them in ways that make sense to them.
My two oldest, who at times seem disinterested in our activist efforts, have come up with ways to integrate our defined family values into things that are meaningful to them. Both have decided these past few weeks that they are working on book concepts as I work on mine.
My oldest Kailah, who decided at three she wanted to be a ballerina, is working on a book: Nutrition for Young Dancers (which will outline the importance of an organic food diet and so on). The motivation came from a conversation in one of her dance classes on nutrition. Still in the early stages of research, she has already discovered that 1) there are not any real good books on the topic and 2) she knows more than most average people, including dancers. This realization alone is empowering for a young girl of fourteen.
My other daughter, Malaika, prides herself on many things – one of them being baking. She has decided to write a book too (partly due to the fact that she likes to try and out do everything that her older sister does). Her book is a Sustainable Cook Book for Kids which will highlight organic, vegan baking recipes.
In the meantime, amidst all of our day to day adventures, we are off to yet another rally. This one we are organizing ourselves as part of a Nationwide Effort: April 1st Fossil Fools Day. We are encouraging old and young alike to come speak out, sing and share at our open mike at the State Capitol (rain or shine).
In this way we will give voice for the words that so desperately need to be spoken. Let us be reminded to listen to their wisdom and above all let us, as mothers, encourage future generations that are going to demand that they be heard! Look for our photos and video to be posted soon!