My Mother the Conservative
OK, so I’m really not old enough to remember the show, “My Mother the Car.” But the title stuck with me as I mentally re-hashed something that happened today. I really processed it on a gut-level, and I’m still not completely sure that blogging it is the best idea ever. But, I’m honest about who I am as a parent, and writing about it chronicles my journey as a parent and provides a “snapshot in time” as to who I am at a given moment, as well as providing a sort of trail that I can look back on, later, and hopefully see growth.
Most folks know I homeschool my three children. Today, my oldest had a team meeting for the summer robotics league he is in. There’s a really nice park across the street from the private home where his team meets. So, while my oldest was with his group, I took his two younger siblings to the park for a bit.
Both are friendly, outgoing kids, and in no time at all, each had buddied up to some of the kids playing. My daughter struck up a friendship with a little girl roughly the same age as she. This little girl was also clearly of the same or similar ethnicity (bi-racial or Black). I’m not big on racial descriptors all willy nilly, but in this case, it’s a necessary distinction.
As it drew time for us to leave, the little girl asked if my daughter would be coming back tomorrow. My daughter explained that we live pretty far away from the park, and only come when her brother has his meetings. It was clear from several questions that the girls really wanted to play again, so I had the brilliant idea of sharing my daughter’s e-mail address (one that is filtered through my e-mail address for her protection). I started rooting around in my ginormous “boat-purse” (think Love Shack by the B-52s: “It’s as big as a whale and it’s about to set sail!”) for a pen and some paper.
Well, shockingly, I found a pen, which almost never happens, because my kids borrow them during church and I rarely get them back! But something to write on was proving to be a little harder to find. Then, I realized I had my African-American Conservatives business cards on me.
But…..I didn’t want to use one. At all. Period.
Well, I had just been interviewed earlier in the day by Melody Scalley, for her show. We had been talking about the media double standard, and the backlash against conservatives. I realized that my hesitancy had nothing to do with what I believe, because I am very proud of my Christianity, and very proud of my conservatism! But it did have everything to do with my daughter; my love for my child. I got into this, as has been well noted here and elsewhere, because of my children, so that I could model lawful and appropriate dissent for them! But, at the same time, I thought: ‘Okay, I’m in the minority (no pun intended) within my community. What if this family, like most in our community, isn’t conservative? Are they going to judge my kid based on that? Would they put the kibosh on this budding friendship because of some ‘crazy, wacko, tea-loving extremist?'”
And, I wimped out. For my kid’s sake, I found a scrap of something else to write on.
As I processed this incident later, and thought about it, I kept coming back to the fact that I’m an adult. I make informed choices everyday, for myself, and for my kids, based on life experience, my beliefs, and my value system: my religious convictions. But that’s me! I’m fully baked. All grown up. I can deal (usually!) with the criticisms lobbed at me. I can deal with what people think of me, or dismiss what they think entirely, depending upon who the person is.
But my children are different.
As I’ve said before, as parents we do provide the first worldview our children have. We infuse them or indoctrinate them or whatever you want to call it, but we do it. Whether it’s our spirituality (or lack thereof), environmentally, or socially, we impart our beliefs and our mores upon our children, until they are able to craft a worldview that is all their own.
So, clearly, I’ve passed something on to my children. And, I am exceptionally proud of what I have passed along to them, and what I believe in. At the same time, we live in a society that doesn’t always embrace what we believe. In fact, it can be downright hostile toward our ideology. I won’t back down from what I believe, but by the same token, I am wary of having my children painted with the same broad (and erroneous) brush.
I don’t think that’s “crazy wacko tea-loving extremist” parenting. I think all parents want their children to be accepted. And society doesn’t always accept everyone. As I said to Melody today, people love to be able to label as a way of wrapping their minds around something, or as a way to distance or marginalize that which it can’t, or won’t, understand. Or simply as a way of trying to impose a superiority of sorts on one another. We do it all the time, consciously or sub-consciously. And, today, Mama just didn’t want to deal with “playground politics.” I just wanted two little girls to be friends.