Our kids bear the burden of our patience


Spring is here.

Just a few weeks ago, I was watching snow fall on my chicken coop in Seattle. Now I’m suddenly coaching another Little League practice tomorrow, and I’m realizing that we are surprisingly close to the end of another school year.

Time keeps passing. The system keeps on revealing more and more of its flaws, shortcomings and downright bad intentions. We continue to search for solutions, but our kids are carrying the burden of our inability to change.


My oldest son, for instance, will be a fifth-grader next year. When we were preparing him to start kindergarten five years ago, we knew we were sending him into an inequitable, discriminatory system of schools. We’ve fought and watchdogged and second-guessed ourselves and advocated and pushed hard for change, and the system remains a knowingly inequitable mess. Despite some good teachers and passionate administrators, our local elementary school remains the short straw in the game of haves and have-nots.

But as parents, we’re supposed to play the long game? We should assume that, despite decades of spinning wheels and blatant inequity, now things are different?

It has been this way for quite a while now. The parents are obligated to remain blindly hopeful, and the kids are obligated to pay the cost of our patience with a system that hasn’t earned it. And that last part generally goes unspoken.

Like I said, time keeps passing. Barring some fantastically unexpected turn of events, my son will finish elementary school next year with no perceptible systemic changes.

Where does it end? Will we keep sending him to middle school while we “hope” for things to be magically different? Will he finish high school in the same boat? Will he be advocating for more equitable schools for his children someday?

I can’t stand the thought of that being true, but it seems more and more likely the more time that passes. Unless, that is, we start to do things drastically differently — starting immediately.

We have examples of what this looks like. The Black homeschooling movement continues to grow nationally and locally. Recognition of Indigenous wisdom and leadership continues to build. More and more clear-thinking, educated folks are coming to the conclusion that self-sustainability is revolutionary — and the only way forward. More and more families are coming to understand that there are richly beautiful ways to educate our beloved children that don’t involve schooling — and they are acting on that understanding and giving their communities glimpses what’s possible.

The system is not inclined to change, but we are free to create the new world for ourselves. Free to imagine a new way of raising and educating our kids and actually have the guts to execute on it. Now. Before it’s too late. Before the rest of my kids have been knowingly raised in an inequitable system. Before we’ve been so patient and so doggone hopeful that we’ve sat and watched and let it all happen.