How to raise an activist

Sunday, March 04, 2012

I'm not a braggy parent.

You'll never see a sticker on my car proclaiming my joy over my honor student, and I have a deep, rage filled hatred for those family stick figure stickers that people stick on the backs of their minivans which scream "I have given up on any identity beyond that of Mother, Wife and Cleaner of Animal Shit".

(I have threatened, if forced to idle behind one of these vans,  to run out and start scraping the people off the window while cursing the patriarchy and cult of motherhood. Just ask Emily, I really have.)

I didn't make a huge deal when Emily decided, for the occasion of her tenth birthday, to ask all of her party attendees to bring her no gifts. Instead, she asked them to bring the cash as a donation for one of two choices: Money for the child her class was sponsoring in Africa or a donation to our local children's library.

Now, this was Emily's idea. Her rationale was that she had Lots, and lots of stuff. She didn't need a bunch of gifts, really. In the end, she raised $75.00 for each goal.

To say that I was pleased is an understatement. I was pleased, proud to bursting. That she came up with it on her own?

Emily is a generous and empathetic person. I wish I could take credit for this, but I don't know that I can. I hope that my commitment to equity in other arenas has rubbed off on her. That my vision of service to community has translated to her...and I think it has. My teacher instinct of modeling this is in full effect with my daughter. I am a "do as I do" person and she has been my 13 year long captive audience.

Today, as I work on data analysis, and she lay in bed next to me drawing, we listened to an older podcast of The American Life.

(side note: apparently it isn't cool to ask your peers if they have heard the latest "This American Life", or episode of "Judge John Hodgman" when you are 13. I assured her that someday, she will find her "people")

The podcast?

We listened to the story until the end, when Emily was sobbing. Her beloved ipod? Made by children her age? Who were being injured and forced to work hours of numbers that Emily can't even begin to imagine? Who were committing suicide requiring nets to be placed around the factory?

Her first instinct was to throw her ipod away.

"I can't use it ever again", she sobbed.

Then we talked about what the man who told this story was really trying to get at - the fact that We, as consumers, can have an important voice in how a company chooses to do business. That we can persuade with our opinions and voices and, ultimately, dollars.

Which prompted her to compose a strongly worded letter. Tactful but to the point, little epistle barbs of teen outrage.

(ah, my mommy heart. So proud. My "strongly worded letter composition" genes have passed on, intact)

This, of course, led to her beginning to look for a corporate email for Apple.

Leading to this astute observation about an hour later:

"Mom! They are hiding this email on PURPOSE! They are making it hard to contact them! Well! They can't get rid of me so easily!"

Ah yes, my little grasshopper. Do not fall at the first (and blatant) obstacle. The obfuscation of the email contact.

She didn't. After another hour or so of searching, she found one. Prompting this email from her to me:

here is a comment page 
Tomorrow  i will email them and  ask  for  them  to  give me their company  email address  

I don't envy you Apple Corp. If she is anything like her mother, the term "tenacious" barely serves.

3 Baleful Regards:

Anonymous said...

I know that you don't know me other than a brief email response as to why I was sending you a friend request (which, by the way I stand corrected...THIS is my favorite of yours). I have read many of your posts but have been kind of nervous to post a comment.
Anyway, I'm rambling....
What I wanted to say is that it is so easy as a parent to focus on what we feel our downfalls are, areas where were fear for fundamentally screwing our kids up, but sometimes they do things that remind us that we aren't all that bad. Good for her for feeling that she needs to DO something! Good for her for not seeing that first obstacle and just giving up. Also, good for you for instilling such values in her. You should both be proud of yourselves.

Neeroc said...

What a fantastic, kick-butt, activist in the bud!

Dawn said...

Now she is a pissed off activist - NPR and TAL retracted the story when it was proven that Daisey fabricated some parts of the story.

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