I can remember being in middle school and going to visit a friend of mine at her house. I can remember talking about the work that her mother did, but it did not resonate with me because I was a kid and Democracy was not talked about in my home. I didn’t even know when my mother would vote. I knew that Election Day was a day that we had out of school, but no one explained what Election Day meant, the true weight of elections for people of my race especially. It wasn’t until I was older, in high school with a thirst for more knowledge, that I began to understand what it meant to vote and that we are in a two party system. I didn’t understand that people were starving in my own country. I just assumed that it was in places such as Africa. That vision was not given to me and we always had food to eat whether it was at Grandma’s house or at home. So as an adult, my understanding of the world is different of course from when I was 12 and 13, but I am an advocate. I am a proud advocate and I fight for those that feel or do not know that they can fight for themselves.
So what happens when activism and advocacy rub off on one of your children? Well, my seven year old, which I often denote as child B is that child. She is bossy, out spoken, and very open and honest. She believes in women’s rights and women’s right to choose (even though she does not know what those choices are), the right to vote, and equality for all people. She believes that people have the right to love who they want to love and it shouldn’t matter. My daughter is my Jr. Activist. She evolves every day and I see her progression. I remember the first day she came home from school proud to announce that she read in a book in the library that women did not have the right to vote until 1920 and how she protested that it was just wrong for anyone to tell women that they could not vote. She knows words like progressive and liberal and she is proud to say that she believes that people should speak up for those that have less than they have. She’s seven and is more vocal than most adults. She also, is one of those kids that will advocate for herself fiercely as well as for her brother. What sets her apart from most kids? She’s on the Autism Spectrum.
So as a parent of a child that is on the Autism Spectrum, her official diagnosis until the DSM V was released was Asperger’s, I feel that I am setting an example for my children that was not set for me and I am not diagnosed with Autism. There of course is a difference in the times and parenting, but I didn’t think my daughter paid attention. The wonderful part of this is also that she has a principal that encourages self-advocacy and believes that we need to teach our children to be self-advocates. My daughter is a prime example of this. My son, he spends most of his day in his “Own Little World”, his words not mine, and my 13 year old has not learned yet when it is appropriate to advocate and when it is not. So I will say that our children see our actions and they want to either be like us or to be the opposite of who we are. My daughter wants to use her voice for good. She wants people to recognize the injustices in the world. My daughter is an emerging leader. Her leadership skills are strong, much stronger than my leadership skill were at twice her age.
My message is simple. Do not spend your time not rocking the boat. Especially if you are a parent of a child with a special need. Sometimes we need to rock the boat to get things accomplished. Prime example, look at North Carolina and Moral Monday. Advocate for yourself and your child in a manner that makes you proud. My seven year old is becoming the master of this. Her voice is loud and bright and she is without a doubt going to be a wonderful advocate for herself and for others. I used to believe that it would be my thirteen year old that would follow in my footsteps. She would see injustice and she would without a doubt want to do what she could to change it. My children see the work that I do, they see the never quit attitude even when it seems that we are down by two with two seconds left on the clock. I will say that I am proud of my little one. I am proud that she is vocal for the right causes at such a young age.