As my almost 6 year old has entered Kindergarten, his awareness, knowledge and perspective of the world we live in has increased and changed. Since today was Martin Luther King day and he had no school, I wanted to make sure he understood that this wasn't a snow day or regular teacher's in service, but there was a reason he had the day off, to celebrate and understand the words and movement of a great man, but of course, keep in terms he could understand.
After all, my family is the special mixed blend, we have history all over the segregation spectrum. And since Martin Luther King has made such an impact in all our lives it's important that he understand his ideas and what he fought for. So last night at the dinner table, my husband and I asked him what he had learned about Martin Luther King.
For obvious reasons, I am always nervous about conversations regarding race. I took a deep breath.(his answers in italics)
"George, Did you learn about Martin Luther King in school?"
I don't know
"What do you mean? You don't know or you don't understand?"
"You didn't pay attention?" my husband asked.
Well, I don't know.
And the conversation had moved on, to what was on his plate, how many peas he'd have to eat and what was the brown stuff on his meat. While he was picking at his plate, I thoughtfully and calmly contemplated my next move or attack of information, my son put down his fork and continued.
He died, right? "Right", we answer back.
Because people didn't agree with his orders.
"What were his beliefs?" I asked.
Well, there were some tables that were labeled, black and some that were labeled white, and that's not fair, you should get to sit at the table you want to.
"Right", I say, impressed that he got that much from class, after all, my 5 year old is a bit comedic in his approach to learning. Although my son is very smart and intelligent and loves school, he likes to be the center of attention and sometimes,you wonder if he is paying attention at all. That is until his increased knowledge and understanding is spurted out at bath times, during car rides, or times like these. And then he continued.
And some water fountains were labeled black and white, and that's not fair, you should get to use the one you want. And some buses were labeled black and white and that's not fair either, you should be able to sit on whatever bus you want. Everyone should get to choose where they sit. Everyone should have the same choice.
And right when he was done, he picked up his fork and continued to eat. Just like that. I on the other hand, almost in tears, shocked and happy with the knowledge he retained and excited with his level of understanding,went on with my dinner too. Happy I didn't have to explain much, and at this moment, loving his teacher.
I exhaled. End of conversation.
And then he added, taking it down to his level, his interests, Transformers.
That's like if there were two roads, one labeled Deceptions and one labeled Autobots, that wouldn't be fair, they should get to choose what road they use.
Martin Luther King through the eyes of my 5 year old.