People like to complicate the crap out of things. Maybe it’s human nature to take something in its simplest form and over think it, try to rationalize it, add to it to make it better… I don’t know. Bigger, better, faster seems to be how we are supposed to think these days. The simplest of concepts are lost on people. It seems as though everyone needs to have their OWN idea and a trail of followers to go with that. If using simple logic, you know that can not happen. Too many chiefs and not enough Indians. That’s what my Grandfather used to say. (And those using simple minds will realize that is not meant to be insulting or hurtful or whatever one might turn that into.)
Explaining things to a 6 year old can be quite difficult; unless of course you can transform your mind into that of a 6 year old. You understand what they see at their level. They see black and white. They don’t see gray. Which I find very ironic. Getting back to it, kids understand lots of complex topics in their simplest form. And if you fail to explain it to them in words they can understand they’ll throw in words they do understand. This can be difficult because sometimes 6 year old’s can pick the wrong words and your lesson goes out the window.
My daughter’s class at school discussed Martin Luther King, Jr. today. These are 6 year old children. Now, my daughter is very intelligent. I’m not just saying that because she’s mine (but I sort of am) but because she is really smart for her age. Regardless she told me all about MLK today and then proceeded to tell her little brother (three) all about MLK and answered every one of his questions to the best she understood the “story”. Which, I thought, was pretty darn good!
I have no idea how the discussion actually took place at her school today but I do know that she was paying attention to every detail. She says, “a long time ago, people had to be separated into black people and white people. The two sides didn’t like each other. Then MLK talked to everyone. He talked to everyone in the whole country and stopped people from having to choose a black side or a white side…..” I asked her if people got to choose which side they wanted or if they were assigned a side. She didn’t know. I asked her what side she would be on. I asked her if she was black or white. Her answer: “I’m tan. I’m both” Now I know what you are thinking….. “my daughter is very intelligent….”. Black and white don’t make tan, they make gray. I was about to tell her that she would have had to choose the white side but I stopped short of labeling her when she clearly had no idea that skin color was something to make a big deal about. I don’t think she thinks she’s black but I do know that she doesn’t care about the color of her skin nor anyone else’s. In fact she said, “….this was all in the 50’s. We don’t have to worry about the black people and the white people anymore…..”
So what does she care about regarding this day? She cares that a man tried to do a very nice and helpful thing for all of mankind and someone shot him dead. She cares that she doesn’t have to pick a side because she likes them both! She also cares for the little girl named “Rosie” that didn’t want to move out of her seat on a bus so the police officers took her away.
I’m humbled by her reasoning and her understanding of this day. She doesn’t see black. She doesn’t see white. She sees tan because that’s what makes sense to her. Hating someone based upon how they look is not something she understands. I’m not going to explain it to her any different either. She gets it and when someone outside of our circle asks her what color she is, I’m going to take pride in knowing her answer. And maybe it will be one of those over thinkers who asks her the question and thinks about her answer for longer than necessary!