Friday, January 21, 2011

Aiden and I and MLK: A 5 Year Old's View of History

My grandson, Aiden, and I spent the school holiday together. He is beautiful with reddish blond hair, light blue eyes, and even has one big dimple when he smiles. I picked him up at 3:00 p.m. to drive him to my little cottage, or "my tree house" Aiden calls it. We make up songs on the way to my place and sing "Puff," "This Land is Your Land," though we only know one verse of each. Once we arrive, we have a plan.

Always one to initiate cooking projects, Aiden told me that he wanted to make a cherry pie. He began kindergarten last September so he is starting to understand or at least be aware of some historical events. Here is a recap of our conversation:

A: Grandma, today is Martin King's birthday.

Me: Oh yes, I know, Aiden. He was a good man.

A: He was shot dead. Then he died.

Me: I remember when it happened. It was very sad.

A: Did you know he was in JAIL, Granma?

Me: Yes. I did.

A: Why was he in jail, Grandma? (his auntie is a sheriff who works in the jails so he fascinated by the notion.)

Me: He broke a law, but it was a very bad law. Do you know what an unjust law is , Aiden? Some white people thought they were better than black people so they wouldn't let them eat in restaurants or drink from the same water fountains...there were terrible mean laws just for black people. He went to jail to change the laws so that they said we are all the same.

A: What's dead mean? Is Martin in heaven, Grandma?

Round and round we went trying to make sense of a good man, trying to change bad laws, arrested, sent to jail, shot dead, and ending up in heaven.

And then we made pie. It was a good day.