If you look at this picture, you’ll see a home-made suggestion box or, in this case, a “compliments and complaints” box. Dropped in on the complaints’ side, you will see a small note that reads, “Dawud is annoying”. Dawud is my 13-year old son. The box was created by Sofia, my 11-year old daughter, who is also the note writer of the complaint.
I have to say that this box brought me so much pleasure and a really good laugh. When experienced on a daily basis, the sheer innocence of children is something that makes it quite hard to be anything but constantly humbled, awed, and reminded of goodness. For me at least, it is this way.
My kids are both hitting puberty (scream). It has been an interesting, sometimes painful, often trying, but always rewarding experience. I wish there was a handbook. Something that lists what to do and how to do it, right. I grew up very differently from my children; so, part of my journey is trial and error and just doing what feels (measured by my trusty gut) right. I am also acutely aware of the privileged lives they lead.
When you work with an organization like Women for Afghan Women, when you are involved in the world around you, when you ingest a seemingly endless stream of news and stories about real struggle – poverty, famine, child labor, sex trafficking, abuse – it is glaringly clear that being able to raise children in a country like the United States is privilege. So, I can laugh at “Dawud is annoying” (although he really is a great big brother to Sofia), but beyond that momentary giggle, my mind wanders – for the millionth time – to all the ways I can try to engage my children in action and with words to build their empathy and awareness.
They volunteer with me, protest with me, sit in on social justice meetings with me, meeting after meeting. We watch documentaries and Ted Talks like they are going out of style. But what I would really love to do is take them to Afghanistan. And take them to visit one of WAW’s Children’s Support Center. And, have us spend time with children and families whose lives we only get a glimpse of through a TV screen. The “Dawud is annoying” notes may continue, but I bet the way they move forward in this world would be very different.
When I first started writing this blog and thinking of all the things I would love to cover, I envisioned it to be light and celebratory. It still can be. But, I now realize, on a daily basis, that though I have never turned away from the very real reality of the state of our people – both domestically and abroad, a constant light needs to be shed. I write this blog for WAW and I am the Chair of WAW’s Junior Board, so there is no escaping the life-saving, vital work WAW does. When I hear about a 10-year old rape victim… TEN YEAR’S OLD! And I know, on a first hand basis, how hard WAW is fighting for her and fighting on her behalf. When I know the work being done to ensure her safety and to prevent these heinous crimes from happening again… It makes it impossible not to thank God, every day, that 1) my children are here, and are safe with me; and 2) that WAW exists.
Support is key. Time, voice, awareness, money. It all counts. We reap what we sow.
Peace and love.