The Who: “Do we need to go march every time something bad happens?”
Me: “Well, maybe. I mean, if we don’t, who will?”
The Who: “We’ll be marching every single day; I don’t think I can do that!”
His expression was a mix of exasperation, worry, exhaustion, fear, bemusement, and even a little amusement. Like he understood that both a “yes” and a “no” answer would be absurd.
He didn’t come with me to DC, but he knew I was going and he knew why. And he didn’t come with me to the Examining Whiteness workshop all day yesterday, though he knew why I was there, too. He has donated time and energy to the movement in his own way by giving me up for two nights, the longest we’ve ever been apart and by giving up his bed for our houseguest/workshop facilitator. He’s joined me at sign-making parties and collaborated with me in setting up postcard-writing campaigns. And today, he joined me at the spur-of-the-moment protest at the airport when we heard that SCROTUS was detaining people just because of their country of origin. And while he was eager to join and to use his privilege to speak up for those with less, he lost his mojo after about a half hour.
I felt a little guilty. Like, maybe I should abandon the rest of the protest and take him home. He’s just a little kid; he wanted to be home, playing football. But then I overheard my friend telling her son (also 8 years old) that sometimes things are hard and boring. It’s not always fun to do what is right. And then a police officer spotted The Who’s sad face and approached him at the barricade.
“What’s the matter, little man?” she asked. He didn’t want to answer, but he did because she was a cop, although that wasn’t immediately apparent to him. (She was wearing plain clothes, but did have a badge hanging around her neck and a ‘Police’ armband.)
“I don’t want to be here anymore,” he said, looking down.
“Of course you don’t!” she answered. “You got a Playstation at home or an Xbox?”
“Neither? What? You got a laptop?”
“Wait, you got a laptop? How old are you?”
“Eight.” He cracked a smile.
“Do you know how old I was when I got my first laptop? Thirty!”
Full-on grin now. I wiped away the tear that was sitting on his cheek.
“You got your own laptop before you got a Playstation?” she asked incredulously. “You got a great mother. You know that? Give her a high five.”
He did, still smiling.
“And you know what else makes your mother great? She’s giving you an amazing experience right here. You’re gonna remember this for the rest of your life. You’re gonna remember the day you came to the airport and stood up for what’s right. And when you go to school tomorrow, you can say, ‘Y’know what I did yesterday? I did the right thing.’ It’s not an easy thing to be here. You want some gum?”