Today is Martin Luther King Jr. Day. It is mind boggling that there are still racial injustices and blatant discrimination in this country so many years after Dr. King's assassination. If you are a parent, you may have had the conversation about what this day means and the history of slavery and discrimination with your children. And, if you're like me, you were met with stunned faces, disbelief and sadness. Brian can not wrap his brain around the fact that people were and, quite frankly, are treated differently because of their race.
"That is so not fair," he told me today. "We're all the same because we were all made by God and he made us all different and special." Preach it, Brian!
This afternoon, Brian participated in a service project and cooking workshop at HomeCooked. He and a group of kids made a dinner to bring home to each of their families - and each of them made another one that will be delivered to local families in need. It's so important to us, above many other things, to raise our children to be kind and compassionate and to have an understanding of what is happening outside of their comfortable, happy life. Brian seems to understand that in a way that impresses me for his age. On the drive there, the two of us were talking and I asked him, "Brian, do you think you - a seven year old kid in the first grade - can change the world?" I was really surprised by his answer.
"Yes! Of course I do!" he confidently replied.
I smiled and said, "Really? How is that?"
"Well, you can change the world by not throwing cans in the water and by respecting the Earth and by recycling. And also by being a good person so other people see you being a good person and they want to be good people, too." he explained.
"Wow - that's a great way of looking at it, buddy! Kind of like a chain reaction! If you are kind and good and respectful of the Earth and the people that live on Earth with you - then others will see that and want to be like you... and then other people will see those people and so on and so on and so on..."
"EXACTLY!" he exclaimed. "That's exactly how people can change the world!"
"Even a first grader!" I added.
"Yes! Definitely a first grader." And with that, we pulled into the HomeCooked parking lot and got ready for his world changing afternoon.
Coincidentally, Brian was paired up with a young boy named Gavin - just a little bit older than him. I stuck around for a little while and it was definitely bittersweet to hear things like, "Brian, can you help Gavin hold the bowl?" or "Gavin, you and Brian are in charge of..."
You could say it was a little bit emotional...for both of us.
Brian came home with a delicious Mexican Tortilla Lasagna, a cheesy mexican rice casserole and chocolate chip caramel bars for dessert. He made all of this himself! It was an incredible dinner and Brian was so, so proud at the table as he served us.
It seems like a perfect day to wrap up his St. Jude Children's Research Hospital "Mathathon" fundraiser! (The fundraiser officially ends tomorrow when Brian hands in his Math worksheets and his donation page.) This was Brian's very first Fundraiser and he was really excited about it! I was on the fence about helping him or letting him do it all on his own. In the end, I decided to post it on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram - but he was in charge of writing the message on his personal page and also writing the thank you notes to the donors. He was excited to raise money and decided to donate any prize he would win back to the children at St. Jude's. I gave it a lot of thought and decided to help him because I wanted his first fundraiser to be big. I was hoping that a very successful first experience will put the "bug" in him to continue to want to do altruistic things down the road. I want to model what it looks like to care about others almost as much as or even more than we care about ourselves and our comfortable life.
The day after we started the fundraiser I couldn't wait for Brian to get home from school. As soon as he sat down for his snack, I broke the news to him that he had raised over $300.00. He was STUNNED. Here was his reaction...
As of now, he has raised $1,505! He is over the moon about this and it has definitely inspired him to continue to do nice things for others. Here is a personal thank you to everyone who has donated with a speech that Brian wrote himself:
If you would still like to donate - you can check THIS LINK to see if it's still operating. It should be open until the end of the day on January 19th, 2016. Thank you!
We're very proud of our son.
"We are bound together in a desire to see the world become a place in which our children can grow free and strong.
We are bound together by the task that stands before us and the road that lies ahead.
We are bound.
And we are bound."
Thank you to James Taylor for those words from one of my favorite songs, "Shed a Little Light."
Thank you to Martin Luther King, Jr. for absolutely changing the world.
Thank you to all the researchers and doctors and hero patients at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.
And thank you to everyone who is changing the world - especially those seven year old first graders just like Brian.