Monday, January 9, 2012

He's Not Depraved

'Change, Freedom, Social Justice - Egypt Uprising protest Melbourne 4 Feb 2011' photo (c) 2011, Takver - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

The moment I get on the phone to finally have an adult conversation, the boys seem to want my attention desperately.  This often includes requests to speak to the person I am talking to, loud antics, and occasionally commentary on the conversation that I am having.  Last night I was chatting with Sparky, about an article that we wanted to write for Fangs for the Fantasy

Because Sparky lives in England, there is always a constant stream of commentary about the fact that he is denied all good things Canadian.  Mayhem in particular is concerned about his lack of access to Tim Hortons, and so to soothe his delicate sensibilities, I informed him that because Sparky is deprived, that I took pity on him this summer and sent him some Timmys.  This seems like a pretty simple sentence right?  Well, what Destruction heard me say is that Sparky is depraved.  He then launched into a lecture about my homophobia, and why it is inappropriate to call a gay man depraved. I was obviously confused because I called Sparky deprived and not depraved.  It was an easy matter to sort out and I then continued with my conversation.

I have to tell you that I experienced yet another moment of great pride in my son.  I have seen him speak to others countless times about various isms.  Sometimes he has difficulty articulating why something is problematic, but he always tries.  This is the first time that he has taken me to task for my language.  Even though he didn't hear me correctly, I know that it took courage to speak to me about what he perceived to be a wrong committed by me, considering the power imbalance between us.

The fact that he felt confident enough to challenge me, tells me that we have done something right.  There are days when raising them this way is extremely exhausting.  Because I have empowered them, and encouraged them to speak freely, with the understanding that what they have to say is of value, means that I rarely get the last word in any conversation.  They always have something to say about everything, and they never tolerate being ignored or dismissed in any way; however, it is in moments like what occurred last night, that I realize that every moment of frustration and desire to run away and join the circus (btw, the baby says he's following me if I leave) is worth it.


One of the other things that continues to amaze me is that the more they know, the more they want to know.  Unlike many adults that I interact with, they never assume that they are aware of all there is to know about historically marginalized bodies.  I think understanding how little you know is a strength, whereas; most refuse to admit their deficiencies. We are all raised in a culture that encourages us to not only embrace our privilege, but to ignore its effects on historically marginalized people. As much as we talk about isms, we also talk about the history of isms.  This is particularly important, because like most children in North America, the history they learn in school is the oppressors history. This is why I am always on the look out for movies, documentaries and books from the perspective of marginalized people for my children. 

Question, think and challenge are three words we continually use in our household, because they are the path to the truth.  At this point, Destruction is 10 and Mayhem the baby is 6, and often I find myself wondering about the men that they will become.  Already I have watched as they have influenced their friends, who perhaps have not had access to the same sort of encouragement that they have had, and it fills me with pride.  I know that in some circles there is a tendency to ignore the impact of mothering on the world and this greatly disappoints me.  Each child who is socially aware, means one more person talking about social justice and pushing for change. When they do so with their friends, they positively effect the future of our world.

I think that this is why there is so much resistance to the choices we have made in raising our children.  We have been told that we are ruining their childhood by introducing them to concepts some adults never learn.  We have had to intervene when other adults have sought to encourage them to embrace their privilege, and we have had to release people from our lives, who refuse to accept our family morals.  Social justice parenting is not an easy thing to do.  It always amazes me that socially the refrain of what about the children continues to abound, but the very idea of raising children to be brutal oppressors is not seen as a problematic.  I fail to understand how teaching a child to hate can be a positive thing. Children aren't born natural little oppressor, but they become that way by following our example.  I think that the majority of women who want to become mothers, make the same promise I did to love and support their children, it's simply a shame that this promise does not include refusing to burden them with ideas that will take a lifetime to correct.