I love the way kids think. That’s why I always end up talking to mine about topics that aren’t on your typical list of kid conversation ideas. To be fair, more times than not, I don’t seek out opportunities to talk about difficult things, like politics. Why would I when it’s hard enough for most adults to understand more or less explain it to children?
The way these conversations usually play out is to catch me by surprise, usually when I’m most tired or busy trying to get them out the door to school. That’s when they hit me with the really tough questions about adult things.
I can’t blame them. They observe and soak in the world around them. Plus, it’s a great bait and switch tactic. Either way, I’ve made it a point to always try to be honest, not shelter them too much, but explain things in a truthful, kid-sized way.
Lately, we’ve been talking about emotions and feelings and that it’s normal to feel anger or sadness just like it’s natural to feel happiness. Sounds simple, but it can be tough particularly in the heat of an emotion like anger.
As February approached, we had a talk about love. When asked, my soon-to-be 6 year old proclaimed love is something he experiences every day – hugging and family.
His older sister, described love as kindness and thoughtfulness. She went on to explain that you don’t have to be family to love each other. You can love anything, including animals.
The idea of loving anything got the younger one thinking. What would happen if everyone in the world loved a little more? “If people are different than us, we could laugh at them and make them feel bad. Or we could love them, and they could be our friends!” he exclaimed. His sister chimed in to support this theory, explaining that our differences are what makes us unique.
The Southwest Community Foundation is made up of a diverse team of change-makers. We all bring distinct skills to our combined effort in cultivating regional change for the common good. Each of us also falls on different points along the spectrum between being realists and optimists. Our individual uniqueness strikes a nice balance and helps us promote ingenuity in our work.
As adults, it’s easy to dismiss elementary school-aged ideas about feelings and choices. You could probably point to hundreds of examples that show it’s so much more complicated than that. The world is riddled with complex problems that need to be solved. Is love really all we need?
As a change-maker and realist, I’m going to raise my hand alongside my diverse colleagues, the generous donors, non-profit leaders, private sector executives, educators, and community members that pass through our doors each day and say yes! I may be a little biased, but these elementary school-aged ideas are on point.
Love opens the door to positive change on every level. Love for our neighbors, our community and region, animals, and the environment is what we need right now. It certainly couldn’t hurt to give it try.
Ms. LeSage is the director of Social Innovation and Sustainability at the Southwest Florida Community Foundation.
The Southwest Florida Community Foundation, founded in 1976, cultivates regional change for the common good through collective leadership, social innovation and philanthropy to address the evolving community needs in Lee, Collier, Charlotte, Hendry and Glades counties. The Foundation partners with individuals, families and corporations who have created over 400 philanthropic funds. Thanks to them, last year the Foundation invested $5 million in grants and programs to the community. With assets of $93 million, the Community Foundation has provided more than $67 million in grants and scholarships to the communities it serves since inception. The Foundation is the backbone organization for the regional FutureMakers Coalition and Lee County’s Sustainability Plan. Based in Fort Myers, the Foundation has satellite offices located in Sanibel Island, LaBelle (Hendry County), and downtown Fort Myers. For more information, visit www.FloridaCommunity.com or call 239-274-5900.