As my own community shapes and shifts, I watch as my kids’ community changes and grows as well. This is not without effort. To create a true community for my kids’ is part of the mental work of raising kids who don’t just live within the compounds of what they inherit. The effort is to raise children who seek and yearn for greater depths of community. Kids who will turn into adults who ask questions and are aware and trusting of said community.
When I was a kid, I had three brothers and a sister who were my most immediate and my furthest sources of community. Though we had family, the everyday, which was just my mother and us, was how our community not only functioned, but survived. There were so many of us, we could in fact create a little village–sharing secrets, hardships, and triumphs. While I am thankful for that, it would be naïve to think that what I provide for my children as one person could give them all the tools necessary for their struggles and triumps. I felt the same in a two-parent household as well. I wonder when friends have a heterosexual, often white, two-parent household, how they expand their kids’ versions of community. How can we expand the efforts outside of what they see on their block and in their school—especially if these structures are not diverse nor inclusive?
Years ago, a friend who survived sexual assault told me to let River know she could always share with her what she couldn’t with me. While this friend isn’t around daily, I know River knows this still to be true. I know, there is a seed planted in her body that knows she can shout this friend’s name to me and I will call this friend. I won’t ask why.
Weeks ago, when something else happened with my kids, I called one of my best friends in the middle of a panic. She told me to just say, “I won’t be mad. I won’t be be mad. No matter what, I won’t be mad.” And this morning, The Conscious Kid shared a tweet that read, “My dad once wrote a note to us and put it in a drawer. The note said, ‘If you’re scared to tell me something, just bring me this note as a reminder that I’m here to support you. I won’t get mad; I will work with you on a solution.’”
Bell Hooks writes, “To build community requires vigilant awareness of the work we must continually do to undermine all the socialization that leads us to behave in ways that perpetuate domination.” And I can’t stop thinking of this lately. Especially when I spent Sunday night being fed (once again) at friend’s house, drinking wine, wathching our kids play. Running home, cleaning their room, and leaning in and on their sitter (who watches a host of other kids with varying family setups) and so many others. The same was true when deciding to cover a friend and watch her kids for her tonight. Or all of the times my kids regenerated the definition of family, and with it, extended their community. It’s not by default, not just because I live alone with River and Oak. These days, I’m thinking about the way in which we build community so that we no longer perpetuate domination. If children, no matter the structure of their home, see how to call on people; if they know they can trust many persons to guide them and shape them; then aren’t we actively expanding the world for our children in a way that is necessary for them to grow into capable, healthy, awakened adults?
(Photo via Feed)