I figured something out the other day about kids. It’s really important to take them to as many weird places and events as you possibly can and I’m not talking about Wal-Mart and Burger King. Take you little kids to rodeos and poetry readings, library’s, museums, plant nursery’s yoga studios and and blues Festivals. If you have little white kids go visit a African American Church. If you have Asian babies take them to a Cinco de Mayo celebration or Hispanic grocery store. Take your kids to odd ball places that are not part of their comfort zone so they are comfortable everywhere they go on this beautiful little planet of ours.
My family lives in a rural, red-neck, predominantly white community in Arkansas. But I don’t want my kids to feel like that’s the only place they belong. I don’t want them to think that’s the only place they can live. I want them to go further than the Dollar Store. I want my children to feel comfortable and confident no matter where they are, no matter what door they walk through. Southern or Yankee, rich or poor, educated or not, artsy, athletic or enlightened, I want my kids to have the ability to talk to anybody, no matter how different they might seem
So, I take them to demolition derby’s, jazz festivals, art galleries, Black History Month celebrations and mma fights. We go watch the horses run at Oaklawn Race Track and concerts with bell ringers. I try to expose them to all kinds of people and events and traditions so they will grow up knowing how expansive the world is and how many choices they have in life. Who knows what their passion and love might be. And if I don’t get them out of our little white-bread neighbor hood they might miss it completely.
When folks go to unfamiliar places and are surrounded by strange people it can be scary. You don’t know what to expect, so you cross your arms and look mean. When you feel out of place or unwanted you might be paralyzed with fear. Don’t do that to your kids.
I know it can be a nightmare, three year olds melt down and do that embarrassing worm thing on the floor. Four year olds want to touch everything, especially expensive things, that are easily broken. And five year old want to run….fast….all the time so taking them out in public is a little like running a 5K, But you need to do it show them this world so they are brave and excited to jump right in.
There are some places you might want to avoid. Terrorist meetings, Nazi parties and I shy away from Scream-o concerts because I don’t want my kid to turn into a scream-o terrorist Nazi.
And one day, they will rise up, pound on their chests, put their hand in the air take and hold of their shining destiny. Hopefully, though they don’t do that in public. That would be really embarrassing.