Sunday, September 18, 2011

If you are reading this, Ruby Bridges,

...perhaps you could give us a call, or stop by our house.  My daughter is quite fascinated with you and your story.  She has started telling me everyday 'Wuby Bwidges wubs me.'  She has also started asking, 'Mama, please can we call Wuby Bwidges.' 
This all started a few weeks ago.  Labor Day to be exact.  We took a nice little trip to the Indianapolis Children's Museum.  It is one of the best Children's Museums in the world.  Literally.  I'm not just trying to talk it up.  People take vacations to Indianapolis to go to it.  Fortunately, we live within driving distance, and get an awesome discounted entry fee of a dollar a person.  So we spent the three dollars for a day of fun and education.
One of their exhibits right now is 'The Power of Children.'  This particular exhibit is meant to encourage children that they can make a difference, even while they are young.  It highlights Anne Frank, Ryan White, and Ruby Bridges.  We have actually walked through it with Abigail before.  But she has grown a little since then, and her curiosity has become unquenchable during that time period.  We walked in to see the Anne Frank exhibit first.  'Mama talk about her.'  At each request I would tell her about the picture of the person, the item that was displayed and so on.  I tried to be honest without going over her head.  So with Anne Frank I said there were some people who didn't like her because of the church she went to, so she had to hide because they wanted to kill her.  She repeated it a few times as we looked at things.  At this point in the exhibit I was already starting to fight tears.  It's a sad thing to have to tell your child about the amount of hatred that exist in the world.
Although we did look at the Ryan White exhibit she wasn't nearly as interested.  She spotted the life sized cut-out of a first grade Ruby and that was what she wanted to talk about.  'Mama tell me 'bout her.'
So I choked back some more tears as I explained to her that peach people didn't want to go to school with her because she was brown. 
-'Mama she habs bwown skin wike me?' 
-'Yes baby.  She has brown skin like you.'
-'Peach people not yike her because she habs bwown skin?'
I went on to explain that her teacher was nice to her, and she was peach, but that some people yelled things at her and didn't use their kind words.  I also made certain to tell her that Ruby responded by praying for these people and being kind.  She walked around the area with all the different pictures and asked question after question.  We talked about the basketball team that couldn't get peach schools to play against them.  We talked about the nice men who walked with Ruby to school to make sure she was safe.  On and on that conversation went with me wondering what exactly my three year old understood, and doing my best to wipe the tears away before she saw them.
We came home and found the book we had about Ruby.  We have read it over and over again; telling and retelling the same story.  Answering and re-answering the same questions.  Abigail seems to get a lot of it on her three year old level.  I constantly wonder how I ended up with the three year old more fascinated by Ruby Bridges than the Barbie exhibit.  It's a trait about my daughter I really love.  Race is also a topic we agreed to face head on when we were entrusted with our daughter.  I won't shy away from it with her.  I just didn't realize how painful it would be to share this part of history with her.
So, thank you Ruby Bridges for walking to school everyday through a crowd of people who hated you.  Thank you for choosing kindness and love in the midst of the hate.  Your six year old self has inspired me to be kinder, and is teaching my daughter more about love and forgiveness than I could ever teach her on my own.  You were an amazing little girl, and I am thankful for the impact you have had on our country [and it's very scarred past over the treatment of people with brown skin].

No comments:

Post a Comment