Quiet Lessons For The Next Generation

January 26, 2018

When I was small, the most important lesson I got was from my great-grandmother. I spent my days
with her as a pre-school kid, bring mumps, measles and chicken-pox into her house, sleeping on her
couch for my afternoon nap and watching Andy Pandy on a black and white television. I looked at
her as a fountain of knowledge. What a lucky little girl was I that this crinkly old lady with the soft
mystical fragrance of 4711 (google it) was there, one on one and ready to share her vast wisdom
with me. And the most important wise lesson when I was three was how to make pikelets. Life was
simple. Eat, sleep, cuddle, toys, treats, car rides.

I’m a parent now. I tell my nearly 11 and 12-year- old that my role is not to be their best friend but
instead the one who has the responsibility of equipping them with the knowledge and confidence to
be the best versions of themselves. In all of that, it makes me think about what lessons are most
valuable because the world has changed. Dark things once never spoken of are out in the light. The
values of our community allow us to open our minds more to be more compassionate and accepting.
There are shifts and ebbs and flows determining prejudices. And yet some things stay the same.

I try to talk about the important things to both instead of failing to mention something because of a
perceived view that it is more relevant to one gender than the other. But I am a product of my own
upbringing and experience. I will still teach my daughter not to walk alone at night while teaching
my son that every woman has the right to walk alone at night and as a man he needs to help that
happen in society. As a woman, so does she. You see, you worry about your kids. You want them
safe and home and snuggled in blankets of love.

I allow my children their emotions. I tell them they are listened to and heard. It’s ok for my son to cry
as it is ok for my daughter to cry. At any age. At any stage. It is better out than in, I say. Know
yourself and be kind to yourself. Forgive yourself. Forgive others even if you do not forget their
actions. Leave the anger and hate behind. Don’t necessarily stay in their company but let it go.

Within the family we remind them that their bodies belong to them and no one has the right to
touch them without their full consent. From an early age I have said that if anyone says if you tell I
will kill your mother that it is a message to tell me, for we are courageous and strong in this family
and nothing of the sort will happen under my watch.

There is no tolerance for bullying, violence or intimidation. You must step forward and defend those
who find themselves less resourced or less able to retreat from these types of abhorrent things. Be
active when things are unfair. Use your voice and find your courage. No sugar and spice or puppy
dog’s tales as the rhyme goes. You are part of humanity, you children of mine. Celebrate your place
and be their ready when it calls on you.

My children, find your peace and know who you are. Listen to your body when it aches or fails you.
Feel your anguish as much as your joy because life is about ups and downs and in everything an
important experience. Take time for yourself. Rest up. But go out and have fun. See things, meet
people and allow the ocean to enliven your soul. Be humble, polite and open to the new. Shine
your light, in which ever form it presents. Lead where you can. Be a beacon for others in good times
and bad.

They are their own people, these smaller people of mine, and that lies at the base of what I can hope
to pass on. Some of it they will use in the same way I have but I think mostly it will meld into what
they believe and who they are. It is not my role to dictate or control. It is to simply guide and
support. A gentle push onward to say, “Keep going. The world needs you.”

For me as the parent, I step back. Available when needed and an ear. A reminder perhaps. But one
who watches in awe as they go forward, as they have always meant to do.

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