Snow-Day Conversation: On Privilege
It’s a snow day, so my creative time has gone the way of peanut butter smeared across the cheek and the table. What a privilege it is for me to be able to sit and click at this keyboard. On days like today, I’m always a hot rag and a sippy cup away from sitting down. My oldest is loosing a molar, and I confess that I didn’t even know kids still did that at this age. It’s been a while since we’ve had a “first” here, and it has made me happy. Another kiddo is drawing scenes in a story line he’s worked on for a while now. Imagination and snack-beggary are at a high.
Today we’ve deemed it pajama and art day. I’m allowing some video game time, too, but come soon, we’ll be screen-free here for Lent. Having constant amusement is a privilege that can begin to feel like a right, but letting the television go during Lent wasn’t even our idea; it was theirs. Maybe our desire for the quiet, to be able to hear, has rubbed off on them. Becoming Anglican, too, has brought a quiet rhythm we’ve desperately needed. It’s amazing how rhythm and a quiet space to acknowledge God bridges huge gaps from the head to the heart.
We can all feel amused half to death sometimes with our screens, and our brains and hearts bear a schism from it. Then when we actually act to breach the schism, we grownups tend to think we need to hear from God more than children do. We make room for ourselves and our own hearts but don’t teach the quiet to the kids. At night at bedtime, one cries to me. He needs freedom and peace and healing just as much as his mama does. We are a house of ministers here.
I watch my boys and often find myself thinking about the kids in Haiti. If I saw a book there at all, it was in the hands of a child. It was being gobbled up. The world around disappeared, because they were hungry in a million ways. They couldn’t get enough of the stories, eyes bobbing back and forth, breathing deep and slow.
How can we honor God with this time we have with our children? How can I honor the children I met on that ravaged, tropical island? How can we honor Black History month practically as a family? How do we consider the whole, wide world when our world can seem so disconnected and sheltered and small?
priv·i·legeˈpriv(ə)lij; noun; a special right, advantage, or immunity granted or available only to a particular person or group of people.
Privilege is a word we’ve introduced to our boys lately. It was simple to explain, to speak of our opportunities and to recognize that many others aren’t afforded the same. Going about our day, we recognize the food on our table, what a privilege to have been born where we are, to eat beef that came from a pasture down the road, how the farmer brought it to us.
It’s a privilege that there are more books in this house than there are in some libraries. When I set the alarm for reading time and address their slumped shoulders and disdain toward having to sit still, I use the word privilege. We are in the early stages of this. We have a lot to uncover.
It’s a privilege that my sons will grow to be men from a middle-class white, well-educated home in the Arkansas countryside.
We haven’t yet discussed as much the news, how if a white man does a wrong thing, it’s not attributed as a character trait to all four of my sons. It seems there’s a power system at play, and my sons will have fewer strikes against them. I’m not sure what power structure needs to be rebuilt, or how, but I assume a better system would offer equal opportunity and equal correction to all. How can my sons want for this if they don’t even know the power systems exist in the first place?
These baby steps of recognizing the powers are not steps of guilt or shame. They are indeed steps of freedom. We want our eyes open. We want to be a people who offer grace like the outpouring of a holy, secure rhythm, an outpouring of trust in our God. After that I’m not exactly sure what comes, except the kingdom where the food, the wine, the milk, and the water is all bought and offered by the King. He says even now to us: Come!