*for the life of me I can't find the main source for this quote. if you know, please tell me*
I've seen the above quote circulating on social media lately, and right away it hit me like a ton of bricks. I've always believed that kids are a blank canvas, that we as parents write on the walls of their brain. They are born innocent, completely pure. And I also believe, to an extent, a BIG extent, that children are a reflection of their parents.
My sister was over the other day (you know, the one with three girls under two), and as we were discussing life, and as I was trying to engage her in gossip, she cut me off like she always does and said something new, something I'd never heard her say before. "I want my kids to grow up and say they never heard me say a bad thing about anyone."
"Well that's a stupid goal," I replied.
I mean, shouldn't your children hear you talk about how bad and evil child molesters are? Shouldn't they hear you discuss how horrible murderers are? Bad drivers? Gingers? And lastly, don't you think your kids need to know the dangers of growing up to be a raging liberal who thinks the world owes them something?
And like she always does, my sister responded with something well-versed and wise:
"It basically boils down to keeping your heart and head as toxic free as possible. And seething over bad people doesn't add to your life. Learning the negative lessons help you be a better person and then you can move on because you don't continue hating people."
I hate when others put a damper on my shallow gossiping fun.
But then later that evening, as I watched my two little boys play in the front yard, I felt such a sense of pride. Pride in knowing that my boys have no sense of superiority. Pride in the fact that when I showed Gunner a picture of two little boys, of which were different races, and said how they were brothers just like him and Colt, he didn't bat an eye or ask why they looked different, the only thing he said to me was "mommy, we need to write them a letter and tell them we want to play with them." Because to Gunner, all he saw was two little boys just like him. That he desperately wanted to play with.
You hear a lot where people say a child's heart and soul are innocent. That children are blindly accepting. Comparing them to adults who are critical and judgmental, as if growing older naturally does that to people. I can only speak for myself, but my parents raised me to believe that everyone is equal, regardless of race, background or social status. And I have an 87 year old grandpa who I have never, not once, heard utter a bad word about someone. Whose acceptance has trickled down to his five kids, and every one of his ten grandchildren and twelve great-grandchildren. (I would also like to give huge credit to my Nonie, my angel in heaven, the matriarch of our family and the most accepting, kind person I've ever known.)
It starts at birth. It starts at home. It starts with me and it starts with you.
No matter how hard we try to preach what is right, if our actions don't line up with our words, our kids will see right through it, and what they will take away is what they see us do. How they see us live our lives when we think they aren't looking. I can tell my kids not to curse fifty times a day, but when they hear me say "oh sh*t" on a constant basis they will think it's ok for them also. I can tell my kids to not give in to peer pressure, that they don't need to drink to have a good time, but if they see mommy and daddy throwing some back every time there is a get-together, sooner or later they will get the impression that drinking does equal a good time. Regardless of what we tell them.
I want my kids to see me be kind. To see me hold the door open for whoever is behind me, to see me respect the elderly and to see me never differentiate between people who may not look exactly the same. I want them to witness me being accepting of everyone, no matter their race, appearance or sexual orientation. I want them to see me respond to negativity with class.
Because I don't think innocence and tolerance fades with age.
I know it doesn't.
Let me refer back to my 87 year old grandpa.
It starts with us.