There is so much going on in the world that is bad, sad, disheartening and dare I say evil. When you have a kid you just want to protect them from all that bad stuff. I want to stick my daughter in a bubble and not let any of those bad things touch her. I don’t want her to know there are people who are cruel to animals. I don’t want her to see the devastation of deforestation. I don’t want her to see children starving. I don’t want her to see polluted waters and animals dying from it. I don’t want her to see what happens in oil spills. I don’t want her to know anything about terrorist or suicide bombers. I don’t want her to see or hear or be part of any kind of hate or discrimination.
Ultimately parents should do what is best for the child and I know as harsh as it seems, hiding her from those things will not help her.
Why in the world would I want to expose her to any of this? Well, if she doesn’t know about it , I can’t nurture any feelings of compassion for those children, animals, plants, whatever. If I bite the bullet and have the courage to talk to her about these kinds of things, I can help her see more than just one point of view. I can nurture a point of view that comes from compassion and love. I can help her separate the behavior from the person. I can help her see how much even just voicing her dissent is important. I can help her see that even if it seems no one hears her dissent what matters is she voiced it. I can help her appreciate what she does have and how valuable just knowing where her next meal is coming from is. I can try and make sure the information she receives isn’t biased or warped. I can help foster her natural compassion for nature by open and honest conversations. Perhaps we can even learn together ways to do better , make an impact or just have a better understanding.
When I was in third grade I had to go to summer school. I had to go to summer school basically every summer but that is besides the point. This summer was memorable. Mr. Kelso was this amazing teacher I had that took a week to talk about Earth Day. In the middle of the summer! For years I assumed Earth Day was in the middle of the summer. When it came to my attention it was in April, I was like um what? No it’s not. Did they change it? He had made such an impact that it never occurred to me that it wasn’t actually Earth Day that week. When I think of that summer I think of Mr. Kelso and planting seeds and exploring the ocean tide pools and a bright hot pink Earth Day t-shirt we got. I can truly trace back my wonder in nature and the amazing world we live in to him. He nurtured a compassion for the Earth we live on just by using free materials because they were “old”. Did he think it was no big deal? Just something to fill the time that was also free? I don’t think so. He had an excitement about the whole week that just couldn’t be faked. Even if he did what a great example of how the smallest cheapest things can make such an impact.
This is what inspires my desire to make sure my daughter’s summers are rich in education and fun at the same time. I started by trying to spread out what I remembered in that one week in the summer of third grade and spread it over the entire summer. We go to science museums and events that are geared toward specific issues. We go to things that to her just seem fun, Puppet shows and gardening events and such. Those puppet shows are about the rainforest and why its important to save it. They are pretty spectacular in and of themselves as it is not just a regular puppet stage type set up. The whole front half of the room is the stage. We go to Gardening events that have focuses on growing your own food, on the importance of trees and many more. We go on nature hikes with biologist to learn about different insects, last year it was dragonflies. We went to demonstrations on controlled burns and demonstrations on the hazards of water pollution. This summer we plan to go to a village that is run entirely eco-friendly. Don’t tell Rick Scott but they talk about climate change there.
Maybe all those summer’s ago, Mr. Kelso figured out what I have learned. It is not going to be me that changes the world for the better. It is the seeds I am planting. One of those seeds happens to be my daughter. The seeds I am nurturing in her are hopefully going to be planted in turn and continue in a ripple affect.Ultimately they are seeds of compassion in its many forms.
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