It is not like me to get quiet. I am rarely quiet. Last night at the board meeting for my son’s daycare when the meeting was about to adjourn I heard myself asking if I could add one more thing.
Their daycare is small. The board meetings take place in a small room in a basement of a church. The daycare itself is non faith-based but housed there. I have been on the voluntary board for over a year. There are only thirty or so families in the entire school, and only eight parents and the director were there now. Not one person in that room intimidates me-in fact it is quite the opposite. Lovely is a word you could use to describe the group as a whole. White is another word.
My sons are two of three children of color there. In a few weeks a fourth and fifth child of color will start there. None of the staff are of color. One parent is.
Before the meeting many of the parents were talking about what a great place this is to raise kids. I wanted to chime in; “unless your kids are black,” but this was not the time to have that conversation. I am the one who chose to live here. No one in this room forced me to move from New York City over ten years ago. And in fact, I moved here when having kids went from the abstract column to the must-accomplish-in-this-lifetime page of my chic red Fil-o-fax.
And, things are changing, even here in Maine. In light of what I wanted to blurt out, it took me even more by surprise what I was about to share with the board.
“I would like to have the minutes reflect my gratitude to (Director’s name here) and to the staff for all of the work they have done since last Dr. Martin Luther King day to this one. They have created an environment that is not only welcoming but clearly reflective of my family’s background and ethnicity as well as everyone else’s here.”
Silence and gentle smiles.
“A year ago there was one rather tired picture of Dr. King on the wall to honor the event. Now the walls have posters year-round that feature children from all backgrounds and colors. The library is packed with books that feature as many characters that look like Sam and Marcel as everyone else…” I pause and look up. Heads are nodding. People are genuinely happy to hear what I have to say. “And, all the teachers are so receptive to ideas, and curriculum suggestions that I have to say you get it, and it shows.”
With what could be described as a hopeful and humble grin the director responds in kind; “We have tried so hard to learn and be responsive Catherine. Thank you for all of your encouragement and help.”
Expressing gratitude is not something I am that used to. It felt good.