So we have entered into the world of team sports with our oldest. She is 6. We signed her up for basketball through KidsInc, and she is having a blast. Of course she is not very good, and games are an interesting combination of counting floor times or staring off into la la land. She is the girl that when she bumps into someone she apologizes. The aggression is not strong in this one. But its ok, she is learning. We are encouraging, support parents…at least we are trying to be. The game itself still somewhat alludes her, but she is picking it up pretty quick.
But it’s the lessons that we are trying to teach her off the court that I am most proud of. Haylee and I know many people, from different backgrounds, different countries, ethnicities. We try hard to instill values in our kids that so… about a week ago she had a game, Sunday afternoon about 3pm. They were playing another team, and by the way the refs are awesome — they slow the game way down and help the kids not crowd each other, giving every child a chance to make their mark. And they start with these 10 little girls, standing on the middle of the court, with shorts that are way too big and don’t fit; the t-shirts with numbers that are bigger than the kids. They each have to turn around, like a catwalk parade, and see which girl they are ‘guarding’ for the next portion of the game. So my little one is guarding no. 5. And then something happened — Ella was constantly looking for no. 5. Now, what I didn’t tell you is that the little girl on the other team was the only African American on their opposing team. Cutest little girl, smiling all the time, played like a champ. And Ella kept looking for the number on her shirt. I mean, it was obvious to us who she was guarding – not hard to tell. But that is not how Ella saw it – she kept looking for that number. It occurred to me about 10 min later, that she doesn’t see the world the way that we have learned to see it. She sees it without difference, without color, without pretense. She sees 10 girls playing basketball. What a beautiful thing. Never once did she stop looking for that no.5…her girl to guard. What a lesson we can learn from the innocence of children and their outlook on the world.
Why do we hate? It is a learned behavior – the representation of the brokenness of our world manifested in the nastiest of ways. We find ways to disconnect from those who are different from us, and then we justify why it is ok. And make no mistake our children watch and learn. Isaiah 11:6 says that “little children will lead” and in this moment my daughter reminded me of a great lesson…one that we should all know and learn, that we should start with love, with compassion, with acceptance…see everyone as a person…see their value.
Don’t teach your kids to hate. They will learn whatever lesson you teach them.