Happy Birthday, Martin!

As far as autism-inspired obsessions go, I suppose Martin Luther King is a good topic to love. You should have seen Jack’s face yesterday when he saw a commercial that featured a drawing of MLK. His face lit up and he shouted, “It’s Martin! I saw Martin!”

Martin is Jack’s new best friend.

Jack is really interested in King and his birthday, so we celebrated MLK Day today with cake and some activities.

We started by watching King’s “I Have a Dream” speech on CNN. I think it gets more incredible every time I watch it.

My kids were a little baffled, but we talked about why he was saying what he was saying and what it meant. I figure that as long as they are continually exposed to things like this, it doesn’t matter that they understand it all the first time.

Then Sam asked me if I was black.
We moved on to coloring the pictures I downloaded off the internet yesterday.

I was a little bit sad that no one wanted to color my favorite page:

Apparently my kids like their civil rights leaders less adorable than I do. Sam very patiently colored in every part of his non-adorable, but very stately picture.

Jack and Quinn worked equally hard, but in a different way. Jack’s is on the top, Quinn’s on the bottom:

Jack started coloring with his chosen black Sharpie, which is his writing implement of choice for everything. Sam took one look at what Jack was doing and said, “Jack! What they mean by ‘black’ is that they have brown skin!”

Following coloring, we sang happy birthday to Martin and ate some cake. All three kids helped blow out the candles.

I decided to see what my guys had absorbed from school, what I told them, CNN, and, you know, the coloring sheets.

Quinn was evidently at someone else’s party because his response was, “I don’t know. I like to draw one and two and three and four.” I’m letting him get away with it this year because he’s three, but next year he’d better have some wise words about racial equality.

Jack had paid attention. He told us that King “gave speeches with books and won a peace medal.” Nice work, Jack.

Sam wins the award for most complete summary: “He was a great man and he went all around the country doing speeches. And he had a hotel, but one time when he stepped out, he died, because someone shot him.”

Sam wants to know if we can have a Martin Luther King, Jr. party every year. I think we can. But I’m not sure I want to teach my kids about the concept of civil disobedience for a while. That would only lead to revolution in Stimeyland.

19 thoughts on “Happy Birthday, Martin!

  1. “I figure that as long as they are continually exposed to things like this, it doesn’t matter that they understand it all the first time.”

    You are so right about that. I think about what I know about equlaity and diversity compared to what I knew at 3. Every year I experience a little more, learn a little more, apply a little more… and I believe it should be that way for my kids too. We didn’t do anything formal this year for MLK, but did make thank you cards for firemen for national service day. One thing that seemed to make sense to my kids regarding fairness and equality is I gave one kid a cookie and didn’t give the other one a cookie and asked them how they each felt….and we went from there. One thing that rarely comes out of my mouth is “life isn’t fair” or “that’s the way the world works.” For me that’s an excuse to be complacent.

    Now I can’t wait until tomorrow….and watch history happen with my boys. They might not understand it now, but when they are ready to understand it, they will have a good foundation to help them piece it all together.

  2. What a great way to commemorate the day! Jack could do far worse than Martin for a friend. What a great mom – coloring pages and cake while learning too.

    VW

  3. We’re a little torn about how to handle MLK Day. The concept of discrimination needs to be broached, but do I need to broach it while it is still so beyond their comprehension and experience? To Joey and Andy, people are just people. I have to figure out how to discuss that people didn’t always think that way, while noting that, in fact, people are just people…

  4. Have I told you lately what an awesome mom you are? You are. Really; I’m not throwing BS or making a joke. Your kids are very lucky; you give a damn about the really, really important things.
    xoxoxo

  5. OMG, could you imagine the sit-ins in your kitchen as they try to overcome broccoli night? As they refuse to ride in their carseats because they’re in the back of the van? Oh, NO!

    I love that you did all this. Tomorrow is going to be a big, big day in this house, lemme tell you. I can’t wait!

  6. Beats the heck out of the assignment we did in grad school for MLK Day!

    Who knew back then that you’d be celebrating 11 years later with three little men of your own?

    VERY COOL!

    –Zoomer

  7. Dude, your kids are so awesome!
    little Bear gets confused about the skin-color thing too. Her stepdad is half Korean, but Little Bear is convinced that he’s black. she also thinks I’m black (I’m Italian!) I tried to explain it to her by referring to her little friend across the street who is black. But she replied, “No, Jamaya is not black! She’s MOCHA!”

  8. you totally rock. it’s funny, my kids were all gung-ho about MLK day, but I didn’t really think much of it. you’ve inspired me – next year, we’re having a birthday party for Dr. King!

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