It was a couple of months ago. The boys and I were walking alongside the half-frozen river and chatting. It was cold and the ice lacing the shores made it look even colder. But it was a good warm walk with good warm words sewn into it. My oldest son is enthralled by a creative game called Minecraft.
“There sure are a lot of squares,” I’ve told him jokingly ever since he first showed it to me. He laughs every time I say that. He asks me if I like it, and I do say that it is not what I’d choose to do on a rainy Saturday morning, but I love to see him so passionate about it.
It’s not just a click-buttons-to-exertion kind of game. It involves thinking, it pushes creativity to the next level and I was not surprised at all when I read that some teachers use it as an educational tool in school.
He’s always shared his ideas and joy about it and rightfully so. He beams because he is listened to, and I bask in his smile, grateful that he took the time to share.
We have countless discussions about the things that we’re passionate about. I often tell them of the things I read and write about. Environmental, social, all the things that I care about, I share my opinions and concerns, and they listen.
But on that cold winter morning walk, while his little brother was looking for ice-buried pebbles by the river, my oldest walked side by side with his cheeks all red and explaining how he is working on equipping his pixelated world with geothermal heating and wind turbines.
“Because that is good, mom, I can use something that’s natural and already there, I just need ideas on how to build it properly.”
I asked for details. How did he think about it? Can it be done? It’s a pixelated world after all. “Yes mom, but so many things mirror the ones here,” he said. Like a manual of some sort.
But the inspiration came from our talks, he said.
My turn to beam. Our worlds were intersecting in the best possible way. His words built a world that though pixelated by design, rounded itself around each one of his words and smiles.
It’s not that I want them to accept my opinions without debate. I welcome all the “why” they can throw at me. And then again, I tell myself that if it wouldn’t make sense to them they would not accept it.
They hear me talk to people, they read the things I write in my blog. Environmental issues are by far my biggest concern. Most of their trust in my words has been established by never being told something without a reason.
A few days ago, my youngest son, a nature lover by his own definition, joined me in watching a documentary about the decline of the sockeye salmon in British Columbia. We buried ourselves in the sofa and watched. There were a lot of references to studies done by various people trying to solve the conundrum. I feared boredom. He’s not seven yet. Instead, he cuddled and watched.
There was evidence about certain data being kept secret from the general public. Not necessarily his first encounter with conflicting opinions and interests. We talk about oil spills, marketing campaigns directed at children, and the wrongness of GM foods.
But he got the gist of it. As he explained it to his brother, something bad is happening to the fish, they die, some people hide the truth because they don’t want people to know.
We talked about it before bedtime. They had questions; why would people care more about money than about people or the environment. I told them answers are not easy to come by. I often realize that I have uncomfortable beliefs, the kind that make people shift in their chairs. But for the first time since the boys were born, I understood the depth of what legacy means.
All our talks, during some of which I share my thoughts – environmentally and otherwise – that I uncover while researching for my articles, the choices I make for us day after day, they are not falling on sleepy little kid ears.
I never associated legacy with what we give children when not even thinking about it. It must be something you make prim and proper before exposing, right? Not so.
While they are bound to follow their own dreams, we should be aware that whether we want it or not, some of the things they see and hear will become the very material they’ll build their wings out of. It better be solid then.
Should they honour us as parents with what they do or say, I can only think we have honoured them too by sharing ideas that contributed to who they become. It’s called legacy, and as I keep telling myself, it better be worth their time and mine.
(Originally published as a column in the Kamloops Daily News, on Saturday April 27, 2013)