I have been feeling off balance in recent weeks. Many of us have. I have realized that some of the things I've said surrounding this election caused my kids to worry and to feel scared. I have been floundering around searching for the right words to use and mostly feeling like I can't find them.
When my dad died suddenly four years ago my daughter was three. She was and is a kid that soaks in all the emotions of the people around her. It was very clear she knew immediately that something was not right. I felt so strongly that we needed to convey the truth to her about her Papa. No matter how hard it was for us to do that. My sister helped me come up with a phrase that we repeated over and over again: Papa got very sick and then he died. We showed her the Sesame Street clip where Big Bird talks candidly about Mr. Hooper's death. We have talked openly about death almost every day since then and she has had many, many challenging questions for which we attempt a response.
I don't know of a Sesame Street video that can help us convey our country's current situation. But I do know that there are two core values we uphold as a priority in my home. They are kindness and respect. These days, when I don't know what to say, I fall back on these values. It's almost become a mantra for me. Kindness and respect, kindness and respect. I know I sound like a broken record to my family, but this is the best I can do right now. I will always trust kindness and respect.
We attended our Interfaith gathering last weekend and I was happily surprised to hear our Rabbi asking us to think about two ideals which we hold dear that we could use as a peaceful meditation during these difficult days. I heard members of our community sharing "love and justice", "compassion and peace", "action and equality". My daughter and I shared a look and a smile spread across both of our faces. I raised my hand to share. You guessed it. Kindness and respect.