Saturday, June 15, 2019

Life Lessons from 7-year-olds

One of my favorite things to do in the summer with my kiddos who are relocated refugees is to take them out in small groups on little dates. When we go to the library for homework club or have parties, it is always a big party of everybody all at once! Those times are wonderful in a different way - but the depth of conversations when you have kids in 2s and 3s can't be replicated.

"Aubrey, we don't laugh at people who are different. Other people do, but we don't."
"That's awesome, girls. Because people who are different have feelings too...they want to be friends, just live everyone else."
"Yeah, like there's this girl who is really small, and so people laugh at her because she is really small, but we just talk and say hi and don't laugh."
Ah, the gift of seeing things like a child - I don't know exactly what is going on with this girl, but they just see her as really small. While I encouraged them to do more than just say hi, I also wanted to affirm them in knowing that it's not okay to make fun of anyone for being different!

"Aubrey, can I take some of this home to save for my [little] brother? Whenever I get anything tasty, I save some to take it home to share with him. And my other cousins are coming over tomorrow, so we can save it and share with all of them."
The spirit of sharing at its finest. If I had been taken out for froyo at this age, I'm not sure my first thought would be taking some home to share with my little brother and cousins.

I love working with these kiddos, and sometimes people say that they are lucky to have me & others as their support system. But, truly, it is just as much of a blessing to me. I always learn from them - and yesterday, it was life lessons from two 7-year-olds.

Saturday, June 8, 2019

"You're too young to be a director!"

How many times have I heard that? Or a similar quote:

"You look too young to be a principal!"

It is usually said as a compliment. It's said with a bit of surprise. And while I don't take offense, it sometimes sends a chorus of thoughts through my mind.

"Why? Do I have to be a certain age to be a director? Is it going to be harder to earn their respect now? Am I going to have to prove myself because I am younger? No, I don't want this to change how I act, I just need to be myself."

And then I start thinking about other implicit biases I see, in myself and sometimes in others. When am I caught off-guard by how somebody looks in comparison to what I "thought" somebody should look like? Is it based on age? Race? Physical appearance? Gender? Something else?

If I am honest with myself, it happens. I think that, if we are all honest with ourselves, we experience this.'s okay. I'm not writing here to make anyone feel guilty. What matters is how we respond.

I can question myself: "Why did I think that? What did I expect? What is causing this cognitive dissonance? What does that tell me about myself and how I perceive the world? How does this change my understanding and perception?"

Honestly, it usually happens in the flash of a second, and I can choose to either ignore that brief moment of surprise or dig it out to see what it means. I'm trying to get better at choosing the latter, to recognize my own biases and where I need to grow.

As for being on the receiving end...I can just smile, say, "Yes, I know I am young, but I've grown into it and it's been a great fit," and move on and do my thing. I am in a leadership role because of my character, work ethic, and ability - and that will shine through on its own.