I’m the mom that sits at TaeKwonDo tournaments and hopes for the first place that doesn’t come. I’m the mom that’s been at soccer games and basketball games and ached inside, wishing that the sheer will of my love for this kid could make a ball float effortlessly from his foot or hand into the goal or hoop.
There are some who say, well, too bad for the boys. If they are inattentive, obstreperous and distracting to their teachers and peers, that’s their problem. After all, the ability to regulate one’s impulses, delay gratification, sit still and pay close attention are the cornerstones of success in school and in the work force. It’s long past time for women to claim their rightful share of the economic rewards that redound to those who do well in school. As one critic told me recently, the classroom is no more rigged against boys than workplaces are rigged against lazy and unfocused workers. But unproductive workers are adults — not 5-year-olds. If boys are restless and unfocused, why not look for ways to help them do better? As a nation, can we afford not to?
Secondly, emphasize the two-way relationship. We are not on a mission to help the poor by distributing suitcases full of give-away’s or performing meaningless make-work or assuming roles that can better be handled by locals. We do not promote beggary. We engage in exchange—economic as well as interpersonal. We enjoy the hospitality that is extended by our hosts, and we contribute to their economy by participating in the legitimate enterprise of tourism through fair payment for food, lodging, local transportation and preparation time. And we buy their products.
This is an unrealistic “gratefulness” is directed at adoptees, and their families, often in an unkind way. In reality, adoptive parents, like all parents, shouldn’t want their kids to put aside what may be important to them. It is the job of every parent to nurture the interests, feelings, and ideas of their children. No one, adopted or not, needs to be any more grateful than anyone else is to their parents for doing what parents are supposed to do.
So let’s get back to that iPhone, shall we? When I used my iPhone on the playground that day, you decided that I was ignoring my child and not appreciating the golden, fleeting years of his youth. What you didn’t know was that my iPhone is a key reason that I’m able to work from home and spend almost every day with my kids. I am extraordinarily grateful to be able to set my own schedule, spend hours and hours of quality time with my kids, and still have a career and bring in income for my family. And if that means that I have to answer e-mails here and there throughout the day in order to make it possible, I’m happy to do it. Why can’t you be happy for me?
Never before has the pressure to perform on high-stakes tests been so intense or meant so much for a child’s academic future. As more school districts strive for accountability, standardized tests have proliferated. The pressure to do well on achievement tests for college is filtering its way down to lower grades, so that even third graders feel as if they are on trial. Students get the message that class work isn’t what counts, and that the standardized exam is the truer measure. Sure, you did your homework and wrote a great history report — but this test is going to find out how smart you really are. Critics argue that all this test-taking is churning out sleep-deprived, overworked, miserable children.
Christian is a label people use to cover them from questions. It frequently means nothing. I don’t actually want to be called that anymore, myself. Untold numbers of people raise funds and have “programs” they are running that are bs and at times abusive but if you call it that you are seen as a cynical jerk. So, instead we all sit politely with our hands in our lap biting the inside of our cheeks to keep from gossiping or calling it what it is in order to handle it lovingly – you know, like Jesus. I openly admit that right now I am pretty sick of being loving to Americans that oppress Haiti. I’m not entirely sure that some of my choices to be quiet will be very pleasing to my Maker. I may have to explain my politeness someday.
What is the cause of all this? We need more research, the experts say. But to a dismayed parent, it seems like the horrific result of a massive experiment. Thanks to the internet, our boys and girls are the first children to grow up with free, round-the-clock access to hardcore pornography. Porn has become part of the adult mainstream, colouring everything from advertising to best-selling books like Fifty Shades of Grey. Of course our children are affected.
In your country, for example, there seem to be Christian political voices saying that you shouldn’t have a national healthcare system. To us, in Britain, this is virtually unthinkable. Every other developed country from Norway to New Zealand has healthcare for all of its citizens. We don’t understand all of this opposition to it over here in the U.S. And, we should remember: In the ancient world, there wasn’t any healthcare system. It was the Christians, very early on, who introduced the idea that we should care for people beyond the circle of our own kin. Christians taught that we should care for the poor and disadvantaged. Christians eventually organized hospitals. To hear people standing up in your political debate and saying—“If you are followers of Jesus, you must reject universal healthcare coverage!”—and that’s unthinkable to us. Those of us who are Christians in other parts of the world are saying: We can’t understand this political language. It’s not our value in our countries. It’s not even in keeping with traditional Christian teaching on caring for others. We can’t understand what we are hearing from some of your politicians on this point. Yet, over here, some Christians are saying that it’s part of the list of boxes we all should check off to keep in line.
She kept her public silence when, in opposition to the Civil Rights Act of 1957, her father conducted a nonstop filibuster that lasted more than 24 hours, and when he continued to oppose every piece of civil rights legislation that came before him. Washington-Williams said she never wanted to harm the man she must have loved, even as he made his name and reputation hurting his own flesh-and-blood and everyone like her.