I worked late and came home to find Leila prepared to watch the election returns for the President of the United States. She had set the PVR to record. As soon as the clock struck 8 pm, she turned the channel so we could follow the results. Eight o’clock is usually the time we head to bed, instead we watched. When we headed to bed the results were close. When we woke up learned the outcome.
“When I was a boy, I was told that anybody could become President;
I’m beginning to believe it.”
This is not a commentary are the results, what I am about to share is Leila’s understanding of what a leader needs to do. On the way to school I asked her what she would do if she were President of the United States. “If I was President of the United States and I saw someone being mean to a ‘black’ person I would tell them to stop. Ask them how they would feel if someone was mean to them. Bullying is not nice.”
I told her that would be a good thing to do and would she do anything else as President. “I would tell people if they needed something or to talk to come to my office and we would talk.” I was impressed with her open door policy and told her as much. This was when I was told; I would be in the office with her at all times.
In an 8-year old voice – a president must ensure all people are treated well and if you have an issue come by and we will work it out. The more time I spend with this child, the more I recognize her wisdom, her resiliency resources are intact, and she has her priorities pretty much in order.
You know what makes me smile? Leila is one of many children who gets life right. With her in my life I am blessed as caregiver of a remarkable child who wears many hats – a student, a friend, an athlete, a comedian, a storyteller, a gamer, a cuddler, an advocate, etc. And in this role, I am witness to so many other children who exemplify the same strong characteristics of people who will create a welcoming safe inclusive community. And you know what else the caring characteristics comes from the parents/guardians and other caring adults who touch their lives in their schools and on their teams because it doesn’t come from thin air. Children learn from what they witness more than from what they hear; then they implement what they learn.
When I watch Leila’s team play hockey there are so many sweet moments. Yes, when the team is playing well they imitate their favourite NHL player with the body movements; you can feel their excitement and we all smile. When the game or the play doesn’t go as hoped what I witness warms the cockles of my heart. They are there for each other with visible support as quickly as it is there in celebratory moments. Leila is the only girl on the team and she is the goalie. On this team with this coaching staff and these players, she will grow and she will not think of herself as ‘different’ – for this I am grateful. These are the life experiences that will build her confidence and she won’t see barriers, she will see opportunities to create change as required.
Take time this week to engage a young person in political discussion.