"Oh, that's a be-autiful color on you!" I heard the man said though the phone. He's not just any man, he's a friend and mentor of mine who appreciates his anonymity, someone I have an immense amount of respect for.
"Who are you talking too?" I replied jokingly, knowing it was obviously one of his kids who had wandered into his home office during our call. "You do realize it's just khaki I'm wearing, right?" Pushing the joke further.
We both giggled a little before he replied through an obvious smile "no, its my oldest boy putting on nail polish."
That silenced me. Not because a boy was wearing nail polish or that my mentor was allowing it, no, I find both of those things the complete right and moral thing to do- it was the loving encouragement that stopped me. That was what fostering freedom sounded like. That's what parenting should be, it should feel like that.
I am kinda reminded of how I Mother some of the girls in prison here. Instead of nail polish (though sometimes it has been!) though I gush over their plans, goals, and grandiose visions of their future. I foster their freedom of thought and I do so because it's freedom of thought, the right to make up your own mind and deserving to have one person who will say "I know you can do it" and mean it.
My friend wasn't just playing along with the games and whims of his curious children, he was affirming a belief in a human being that their own creativity and free thought made them "be-autiful". Every person in the world should hear that, should feel that...
I have a challenge for you: Write some far-fetched idea you have on a piece of paper and mail it to me. Dare to feel be-autiful.
I did, I wrote the University of Washington Department of Sociology my dream. I dared to feel be-autiful and it felt liberating. Try it.
To contact me you must be a humanist...
"A real humanist can be identified more by his trust in the people, which engages him in their struggle, then by a thousand actions in their favor without that trust." ("Pedagogy of the Oppressed" by Paulo Freire )