I have quite the collection of penguin items at my house. It seems that once you are a collector of something, people always know what to get you as a gift. I've got stuffed animals (well, I don't have them anymore, the kids have confiscated them, but they are still MINE!), figurines made of glass, platic, wood, etc.; pictures, coffee mugs, shirts, socks (more pairs than I care to admit...), Christmas ornaments and more. Oh,...and the license plate off my old car. Someone stole one of the plates, so I had to get different ones, but I kept the remaining one (Shhhhh...)
The kids have even gotten into it. They don't just love geeky things for Daddy's sake; they love penguins because of Mommy, too! For Christmas they got a set of plastic nesting penguins; presumably so they stop trying to play with my nice, wooden ones. There's a penguin pillow pet in the house, but I have to hide it next to my bed because the kids think it belongs to them!
Before I had actual children, I always dreamed of having a daughter named Penelope Gwendolyn. Instead of calling her by that mouthful of a name, I would have simply called her PenGwen. Frances is lucky I didn't saddle her with that name, huh?!
Why am I talking about penguins? Because today is Penguin Awareness Day! Are you aware of penguins? Good! I was worried I was going to have to run a campaign or start a petition!! I'm not putting all my energy into that today. I've got the day off from work. According to the sign in my office there are two reasons for that.
The other thing we've got to be aware of is the amazing work of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. My kids have learned about him in school. They know who he is from pictures and they can tell you why he is a famous person they study. The thing is, I don't think they really understand why the things Dr. King did were so revolutionary!
My kids go to a school where their skin color is in the minority. I'm not sure they've really noticed that either. They have grown up surrounded by kids of all skin colors, from all different cultures and backgrounds. They hear and see many different languages all around them throughout the day. They think that's totally normal and I like it that way!
Last year at Henry's Kindergaten graduation picnic, the families were instructed to bring a potluck item from their culture. We had empanadas next to sushi next to fried chicken and potato salad. And it was delicious! When Frances' class wrote about holiday traditions this year I saw Christmas stories hanging on the wall next to Hanukkah stories, next to Dwali stories, next to stories about Santa Claus. All just mixed in together.
My kids are certainly learning that other people are different from them, but they are NOT learning that there is anything wrong with that. To them, it's just normal that skin comes in all different colors, families come in all different shapes and sizes, and people celebrate all different holidays and traditions.
I am thankful for the hard work that Dr. King and others like him did. I have an enormous amount of respect for his non-violent but vocal methods. I think we have come a long way since, and we have a long way still to go. But I am thankful that my kids don't completely understand his work, because they cannot comprehend how some people used to have to drink from different water fountains or ride different buses. As Frances once told me, "That would mean that M******* would have to go to a different school. That's just dumb!" Yes, dear, it is. I'm glad you think so.