“Hip hop hooray! Tom and Arthur are getting ready for their wedding!” A classic theme for our doll play; getting married. Everyone is getting married these days for Ramona. It is all about the marriage. (Even the biscuits tie the knot before she eats them.) I slip the gay dad’s union in without Ramona batting an eye lid. I figure it is our role to balance out any limiting and exclusive social conventions through our play, right? We tackle all sorts of progressive stuff with those dolls.
It’s a bit of a tightrope. As all of these parenting acts are. How do we guide children into open mindedness? How do we instill a status quo challenging inquisitiveness? Must we? Should we?
I have always thought my role was to raise radicals. We attend peace and environmental marches with gusto. I try and tackle any “isms” that dare cast their shadow upon our lives.
But I’m beginning to think that the biggest thing I can do is simply give our children the space to be who they are, to find what they are naturally drawn to. To allow them to question everything, to be authentic. To trust themselves, to respect themselves. I think these things are perhaps the foundations that every radical stands upon. Less then what I do with them. Do you know what I mean?
I do think we can nurture a questioning environment. And I thank books for helping me do this. The girls were recently giving A is for Activist by Innosanto Nagara. (Actually, they were given it by Thalia of Sacraparental.com, not Innosanto. Thalia wrote 6 Ways Children Can Change the World this week, which I found quite thought provoking!) It is a brilliant little book – one that every kid should have upon their shelves. Imagine a world where words like “feminist” and “grassroots” and “abolitionist” are a part of every child’s vocab.
(How is it that children manage to pick up swears so easily? Rather than classic human rights lingo, huh?)
We also hunt out the books recommended by a Mighty Girl…
We have an open door policy with books (although, you know I sometimes can’t help myself tweaking boy knights into girl knights) but I try really hard to bring in stories that nurture a perspective that includes and celebrates difference and diversity and action.
And I’m trying largely to trust that the way of being with our children is as much as important as what we do with our children, if we really care about raising radicals. It isn’t wholly necessary to represent the rights of homosexual people in every doll game, y’know?
And I’m also trying to come to terms with not raising a radical! To just love whomever they are, and whatever they love.
And mostly, I’m trying to put my own adult privilege under the microscope and attend to my own inner urges to control. Because our world will only ever become more equal if each child understands that power shouldn’t be used over another person.
A is for Activist is available from here from the Book Depository - currently discounted on there and with free delivery, whoopville!- or ask your local independent to stock it!
This blog is for Blog Action Day 2014! Do check out all the blogs that have joined in today, and my previous year’s contributions: