Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Autumn and Martin Luther King, Jr.

This is the child who asks me really, really hard questions!

Autumn is preoccupied with death lately. More so than usual, rather, because she talks about Garrett fairly regularly. Recently her questions are disturbingly sharp like, "why did your tummy take care of me but not baby Garrett?" I try to be honest and tell her that I don't know and the doctors don't know and inevitably we start talking about God and Heaven. Sometimes she is angry and I tell her I understand. Sometimes it leads to funny conversations like this morning when she asked if God lives in our hearts, is his house shaped like a heart that we draw. So I explained to her physical and metaphorical hearts.

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is coming up and, especially since we are in Memphis, there is a lot of talk about him, his work and his death.  They must be talking about him at school because every time we are in the car for more than 10 minutes, Autumn wants to talk about MLK. Yesterday she wanted to know if he was a king so we talked about first, middle, and last names. And then she needed to know why he's a junior like the tv station at Lainey and P'd's called Nick, Jr.!

The first time Autumn brought up Martin Luther King, Jr., she asked me why he was dead. I asked her if she remembered how I told her that a long time ago, girls couldn't be warriors or soldiers. She did. So I told her that "when Lula, Lainey, and P'd were little, people didn't think that people with brown skin should be able to do the same things as people with white skin. And that they shouldn't be friends. MLK thought that was silly, because it is, and worked hard to make sure everyone could be the same. Some people didn't like that so one day, someone decided to kill him. But, even though they tried to stop all the good things he did, it didn't work and Martin Luther King's good work kept going and going even after he died." I'm thinking maybe that was too blunt there at the end but she surprised me and I have no idea how else to explain an assasination. I'd also rather her hear the details from me than from someone else.

Autumn got a bit morose and said she really wished that MLK was still alive and could be "in our world." I still haven't figured out what "in our world" means. I am assuming in that contexts it's earth as opposed to Heaven but I've noticed Autumn also uses that phrase to mean in Memphis or the United States. Anyway, she asked a lot of questions after that and I answered them as briefly and casually as I could, another one of my "oh, my goodness, Autumn is asking me hard questions" strategies. Stay chill is my motto. She seemed to feel a little better after a bit and chirped, "hey! Baby Garrett and Martin Luther King, Jr., are in Heaven together!"

Now Autumn wants a book about Martin Luther King, Jr., so I am going to try to find an age appropriate one. If you have any recommendations, I would love to hear them in the comments. I'd also be interested in hearing your stories about tough questions and conversations.

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