Dear Lydia and Bill, but mostly Lydia,
A little birdie told me that you were name-dropping on your show today. And that the name was mine. I know, I should have expected that, what with the whole Commenting On Your Effbook Page and whatnot. But I just couldn't help myself.
See, you said, "I'm asking: Would you let your 12 yr old participate in ‘Occupy Wall Street protests?' I didn't think so...", which is *so* not very 99% of you. Just saying.
The thing is? I would let my 12 year old participate in a protest, pretty much any protest, and including the Occupy Wall Street protests. I don't actually have a twelve year old child at the moment, but if you were to add up the ages of Miss O and the H-Bomb, I would have a 12 year old.
And since I know you're just gripping the edge of your seat, wishing I'd tell you why, I'm going to tell you why.
First and foremost, my job as a parent is to teach my short people to be hard-working, purposeful, contributing members of society who think for themselves. While it is true that there are days when seriously inappropriate hours of Wii are played, my people know how to work. The oldest three (ages 8, 6, and 4) do their own laundry. Sure, they're not good at folding, but they put it in the laundry bag, drag it down the stairs, put it in the washer, add the detergent, press start, move it to the dryer, press start and move it to the
green sofa for safekeeping folding area. Then they take it upstairs and put it away. My people can cook meals with little input from me. They feed the cats and the chickens. They help each other. They load and unload the dishwasher. They understand that in the Dayton Family, everybody helps, and that it is important to be kind.
Another part of my job is to be sure that my children understand that most people in the world do not live in the same situation as our family. We talk about Important Things. My daughter is 8, and she knows that there are people in the world who do not eat a bowl of rice in a week. She knows that there are innocent children and orphans locked up in prisons in Uganda. She understands that there are places where millions of people do not have clean, safe drinking water. She knows that people do bad things to animals (and I'm sorry, but I just can't link up to one of those Sarah MacLachlan SPCA videos because you'll be weeping and unable to finish reading my post).
That is a lot of information for a young child. You're totally right if that's what you're thinking right now. But here's the thing: we don't just talk about the problems, about the suffering, about the injustice of it all. We talk about solutions, and the people who are making it the work of their lives to accomplish change.
We hosted a Cupcake Kids event to benefit Sixty Feet, a not-for-profit that provides clean water, education and medical care for imprisoned youth in Uganda... we made 15 dozen cupcakes and raised $1400. For Christmas, we have purchased "gifts" from World Vision and have made donations to The Buffalo City Mission in my mother's name, and Habitat for Humanity of Genesee County in honour of my father-in-law, who helped to found the organization in Genesee County.
Solutions, each and every one of them, and believe me when I say we talk about what $1400 will purchase for imprisoned children, or how the City Mission will feed the homeless and hungry with our $100.
We are empowering our children to make a difference in this world.
How does this relate to a bunch of people camping out in public parks in New York City and hundreds of cities across the US, including Buffalo and Rochester? We talk about what is going on. Why are those people sleeping in a park? Do they have homes? Do they have jobs? What do the signs say? What is the point?
We watch the videos, and we talk about that. What are they saying? What does that mean? Why did that police man bash that guy's head into a parked car and take his camera away? Is it illegal to take pictures of police? What do you imagine a person would have to do or say in order to get beaten unconscious with a nightstick? Will the police near us beat us up?
These are serious conversations, and I'll be honest, it's hard to explain Wall Street and financial corruption to an 8 year old. She totally understands corporate greed ~ she tells me that when I keep all the fruity tootsie rolls for myself, even though fruity tootsie rolls are intended for children, that I am Doing Corporate Greed. No lie. And really, it's a pretty good analogy for an eight year old.
So if, after all of these conversations, my darling daughter came to me and said, Mama, I've been thinking about these protests, and I think that some people aren't following the rules in the Constitution. I agree that banks should take care of people's money, and I think the government should not give the banks money for screwing up people's money. I think the death penalty is wrong; I'd like to make a sign and go walk with the protesters on Saturday.
You can bet that I'd be getting her some poster-board and a Sharpie, and we would be at that protest without an ounce of hesitation. And note that I said WE, because as her parent, I need to protect her, and not only be available to explain what is going on, but also to be the adult and pull her out if the situation became volatile or dangerous.
It is a very small world that is our home, and it is very important to my husband and me to raise children who feel connected to the people around them. I want my children to be considerate and conscious and caring, and to really think about the things that are happening, not only in our tiny town, but in tiny towns across the world. I want them to see that their actions matter, that their inactions matter, too. And if my conscious, thinking, little beings have formed reasons and plans of action, it is my responsibility to help them reach their goals.
So there you go. A super long, unrequested commentary just for you, because nothing says, Gee, thanks for mentioning my opinion on your show, like an open letter blog post. But if you have a minute, maybe let me know why you wouldn't let your hypothetical 12 year old rock Wall Street. I'd love to know.
P.S. One last thing. The WGRZ website is totally giving you and your show the shaft, which is totally unfair even considering Bill's Face For The Airwaves. If all the protesters weren't so gosh-darned busy this week, I'd suggest they swing by headquarters and give the muckity-mucks The Business.