Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Monday, May 29, 2017

Parenthood: Week 206 – Four Years Old

When you become an adult the passage of time is different than when you are a kid. Each year when you are a child, you are in a new grade each year, you constantly grow out of clothing. There clearly defined milestones like graduation that mark the time as life goes on.

When you become an adult, your job unlike school for most of us doesn’t have a clear marking of time. As a teacher, I have the structure of the school year but most people do not have. And like most people, my job doesn’t have an end point like high school graduation for a high school student. As an adult clothing wears out but slower than when you grow out of clothing as a child.  This marker of time moving forward becomes less significant.

Life as adult becomes a wash of days, months and years, and there are moments like weddings and funerals that mark life moving forward. However, time is felt differently because the personal growth is not as easy to notice and in the morass that is often adulthood, we focus less on time and more on life.

When you have a child, all of this change. It’s not your clothing, and these aren’t your milestones, they are your child’s, but you feel them as partially your own. It’s often said that the first birthday party is as much as a celebration is for the parents who have gotten through what is often one of years of one’s adult life, as it is for the child. Time moves more clearly from tummy time, to crawling, to walking and finally to running. Clothing that once was adorably oversized becomes comically undersized in what seems like, no time at all.

Everyone tells you to take the time to enjoy the moments with your baby, your toddler, and your pre-school age child because they say it will go “so quickly.” It’s hard to believe that when you are struggling to put your child to bed and can’t wait for the time when your child is potty trained and you don’t have to change diapers anymore. In the moment when the struggles are the worst, the age of your child, the developmental stage that she is in, seems like it will last forever. But it doesn’t. And as soon as you master whatever parenting struggles you feel at a certain developmental stage, your child grows out of it.

The thing is, they are right. It doesn’t feel like Ollie was born four years ago. It feels closer to a month ago. It’s not that I don’t remember all of the amazing moments of the past four years. I do, but it just went so fast. I made sure to stop myself, and take the time to do nothing but watch him breath as a baby, and play as a toddler. However it still feels like it got away from me. I love Ollie as a four year old, but I cherish the memories of how he was as a baby and if I could experiences of holding him as a baby, even in the worst of a crying fit, I would pay handsomely for that experience.

Ollie turned four last week. I don’t feel like I’m completely ready for this. I felt more comfortable with him being three even right when he turned three than I do with him being four. But I’ll get there.

Parenthood is accepting change, knowing that the best is finite but also yet to come. It’s knowing that experiences may never be able to be revisited but also having faith that while these memories may be forgotten, these moments will have impacts that will last forever.

Ollie, you are still my special little guy. I am so proud of you and I hope that I earn your pride with the choices I make. I love you more than ever. Never forget that you matter and that you are powerful. You can change the world for the better. I know that for a fact because you have changed my world and brought happiness and meaning to my life and for this, I will always be grateful. Happy Birthday.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Year 7: Week 35 – Holding All The Different Feelings

In the documentary, Hamilton’s America, Christopher Jackson talks about struggling with how we think about George Washington. He explains how we have to be able to admire him for his great work for the country, and at the same time, acknowledge the fact that he owned slaves.

This past week, there has been moments with my students with my students when I am holding different feeling and thoughts about my students at the same time. During a 3rd grade class, a student joked that I had an Afro hairstyle. I was annoyed at this interruption and that fact the students were inappropriately laughing at his comment and at me. However, as I began explaining the history of the Afro and the meaning of hairstyles in different cultures, I began to feel pride. The way the student listened and were receptive to my lesson, showed that they more than interested in why the Afro joke was not appropriate. At a certain moment there interest turned into a genuine interest and fascination with what hair means to culture and people’s identity.

My 6th graders have been making great progress. However, they are struggling to maintaining attention to the lesson after we are done playing. It was actually really effective when I told them that I had two conflicting thoughts in my head. I was proud of them musically and at the same time I was frustrated that we weren’t able to properly frame the music in silence.

Both of these examples are when you holding two thoughts in your head have a tension between something that is good and something that is bad. What happened with my 8th graders today was a different kind of collection of thoughts.

What my 8th graders shared with me today was amazing. They were speaking to me about a shared experience they had together as a full grade (almost 70 students crammed in a band room, that comfortably holds half that many students).

After I expressed my feelings about the topic, I gave the floor to them. What followed was everything I love about teaching middle school. The students’ comments were honest and real. Some had unintentionally comical comments while other share mature thoughts far beyond their years. Students made sure that I called on people who had been patiently waiting to be called on, while others helped each other stay quiet and pay attention.

One of the most powerful comments was when a student talked about how the experience led to other students making undesired comments. This girl was opening up in front of her whole class, which possibly could lead to the kinds of comments she was talking about.  However, there was something else more powerful at play here. I could see in her eyes a desire to make herself understood to me. I could see that she was taking a moment to be brave because it was more important that I knew how she felt than anything else in the world at that very moment.

The quiet in the room, the space that the students gave her was a powerful validation of her feelings and experience, more powerful than any words I could have spoken. It’s one thing to say that you validate a person’s feelings it’s a whole different thing to actually validate their feelings by creating the space and the feeling of safety so that a person can express themselves.

This discussion made me feel so proud. I felt inspired by these kids, and more than anything else, I felt admiration for them.  Feeling all of that at the same time for a group of kids is something I'll never forget.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Parenthood: Week 205 – Why?

Momma always had a way of explaining things so I could understand them.
- Forrest Gump
I’ve looked forward to being the kind of parent like Forrest’s mother who always had a way of making the world make sense to his children. For the most part, I do a pretty good job. I know a fair amount or random trivial, but I don’t know everything and I’m not afraid to admit that to Ollie. There have been multiple times when we’ve looked up names of dinosaurs together or obscure Star Wars characters that show up in his picture books.

The other day, we were in bed reading a book and we had a short black out. Ollie asked me what happened, and I explained that the electricity went out. Ollie asked me what electricity was and I started to explain but realized that I had no idea what I was talking about. I thought of talking about AC/DC the rock band but I kept on point and told him that we would look it up later.

The next day, I spent ten minutes online trying to figure out how to explain electricity to Ollie. It still wasn’t clicking and then it hit me: The Magic School Bus. Ollie has been really into these books and television show lately and they had a book on electricity.

We went to the library and checked out our eleventh Magic School Bus book. I sat down and read it to him in the library, at home, and read it on my own once. Yup, I still don’t get it, but Ollie seemed satisfied by the explanation in the book. Mission accomplished.

I love that Ollie asks "why."  Yes, it can annoying on rare occasions but I worked to embrace this because it is a way that Ollie is trying to explore and understand the world around him. I want Ollie to cherish and be proud of his curiosity and get positive feeling from asking why as opposed feelings of shame.

I can’t be like Forrest’s mom. The world is too big. There’s too much that he will and does experience that I do not and often cannot understand.  It is exactly this reason that I feel so glad that he continues to ask questions.

I love learning and I have my interests that push me to explore parts of the world of my choice. Ollie brings me to places and pushes me to explore parts of the world that interest him that sometimes I have no desire to look into on my own.  I love being a parents means having a person in my life who doesn’t always share my interests but through his wonder inspires me to look beyond my own curiosity.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Year 7: Week 34 – Two Moments From Concert Week

This past week we had our big MS and HS concert. We had a lot of logistics to figure out, groups to rehearse throughout the week, and also an assembly to present on Wednesday as a preview for the concert on Thursday evening. Now that the week is past and most of the dust is settled here are the moments that stick out in my head from the past week.

Jessica’s Change
We were at the end of the period and the 8th grade band and choir were on stage. We had been working on a “Change Is Gonna Come,” as a band and choir joint performance. Musically the 8th graders were doing fine, but there behavior did not reflect the gravity and meaning of this song. I put my hands up and glanced over to the choir. I saw a girl standing at the top corner of a choir risers doing a silly dance. I put my hands down and yelled across the stage to her.
Jessica. Stop it! All of you, get it together. I had about a minute to speak with Representative John Lewis last week after he spoke to all of you. I told him that we were working on this song. He told that this was one of those songs that they would listen to after a hard day of marching or felt their lives were threatened during the Civil Rights movement. Listening to this song gave them hope and inspired them to continue this work the next day. You need to not be like every other 8th grader and look further beyond 6 inches in front of your face and reflect the meaning of this song in how your perform.
The grade immediately took on a more serious tone and did a great last run through of the song. The next day, I found Jessica in art class. She was sitting down helping a friend hot glue gun some decorations on a pillow they were making in class. I asked the other girl to give us space and I talked to Jessica. I explained to her that I knew she wasn’t the only person who was misbehaving and that one the reasons I called her out was because I didn’t know the name of the girl she was standing next to who was also goofing off. I told her how I remembered her as a 3rd grade student and how proud I was of her work in the musical and the young woman that she had become. She thanked me for my words and we left it there. Yes, Jessica is in choir and I don’t teach her, but i taught her when she was in 3rd and 5th grade and like all of my students, even though they are done with me as a teacher, I'm not done with them as their teacher.

The Prep
My favorite moment when conducting a group of students is right before we start. While the song is going, it’s very engaging and challenging, but it’s very intense. After a song is done, there’s the rush of feeling and adrenaline slowly ebbing. Right before I start the song is the most fun. Yes, I have a metronome click going in my head, but there’s something else going on. There is the kinetic musical energy, the anticipation and the feeling of something special, that something amazing is about to happen.

Right before starting the finale of the concert looking out over the band, I could see in their eyes and their posture and I could feel their energy, ready to break loose. We all had worked so hard and now it was the time to have fun. I glanced over at the choir director and she gave me a thumbs up. As I gave my prep beat, I heard an unearthly silence, I felt a weight in my arms and smiled in pure joy. Like the weightlessness before hitting the water coming off a diving board, there’s a feeling of freedom before the sound come over me as the band started.

I felt this way because I knew we were going to sound great. This finale was a result of the work of our students and teamwork of my music department.  The positivity of our process ensured that we would be successful. Pride in the preparation and the process is pride in the performance. There was more pride that I can describe all throughout that night, the past week and in the past months.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Parenthood: Week 204 - Kid’s Stuff

One of the reasons that Diana and I enjoy being parents so much is because we enjoy kid stuff. Diana is an avid reader and many of her favorite books are categorized as teen fiction. My desk is covered in actions figures and toys. I always take time to check out the toy aisle in Target. I used to be an avid comic book reader and I love many facets of geek culture. I’d be playing video games far more often if I had more free time. Also, Diana and I love watching great children films.

We both get to do kid stuff with our students every day and it’s a blast. Art and activities created for children have incredible potential for expression. Great art created for children requires the artist to use simple tools in effective and creative ways to create interest and drama. For example, a great children’s book can only utilize a limited vocabulary, so the words that are chosen need to be very carefully chosen and artfully arranged.

I remember the day that we got Ollie home from the hospital, I sat down to read to read him one of my favorite children's books. I realized quickly that he had little ability to see the book in front of him or have any idea what was going on at that young age, so after a couple pages of reading out loud to him and Ollie nodding off, I continued and finished reading the book for myself.

I’ve love watching Mister Roger’s Neighborhood with Ollie, going to children’s museums with him and playing with Ollie’s toys with him. And I’ve loved watching Diana get so much joy out of watching Diana experience all of this great art that is created for children with Ollie. We’ve been to a couple children’s concerts and children’s theater in the past couple months and Diana is eager to help Ollie enjoy the production.  In their enjoyment they share these experiences.

We both get our fill of stuff created for children, and I do get tired of listening to a song that Ollie is obsessed with or reading a book that Ollie wants me to reread for the fifth time in a row. What has helped is that this has been a two-way street. Ollie has gotten into some things that are not children’s songs, like Elton John’s music and much of the original broadway cast recording of Hamilton.

There’s so much more that we are looking forward to sharing with Ollie that are as much for him as it is for us. There’s Anne of Green Gables (movies and the books),  Harry Potter seires(again, movies and books), beautiful Anime, comic books, Legos, great animated television shows like Batman: The Animated Series, and parts of museums that he is only beginning to understand.

Last night I read This Little House by Virginia Lee Burton to Ollie. It was beautiful reading experience on par with the feeling of satisfaction I get from reading works by my favorite author John Steinbeck. It’s about reliving my childhood, it’s about my lifelong interest but it’s also about something more.

The best of us often comes out when we do for children. The same can be said for when we create for children. It is in the great art that we capture the optimism, and hope that not only nurtures the soul of children but also sustains the spirits for adults. In this art, we find the world that is worth fighting for, and the simple understanding that have the can create the bridges that we so desperately need to better understand each other.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Year 7: Week 33 – All The Feels

It wasn’t all my fault but it was all my responsibility. I organized a music assembly. It went long which caused inconveniences for other teachers. As the assembly was unfolding, I noticed that time was passing faster than I had predicted. I had made the call to make some last minute changes to accommodate a scheduling issue. This issue wasn’t directly my fault but I chose how to address this issue. I also underestimated the length of each groups’ performance.

I didn’t do the best I could with planning this assembly, but I did the best job I could with the time that I had to plan this event. I wrote an apology email to the teachers later that day. Not fun to write, but important to get out there. This helped me move on and hopefully it helped the other teachers move forward as well.

So Much More Than Pride
Today, our extracurricular choirs performed a before school concert. During one of the songs, a student had a solo. I looked around and noticed his mother, a teacher at my school crying watching her son sing. It was a beautiful moment to see a parent feel such a deep sense of pride, and joy watching her son sing.

She wasn’t the only parent in the audience with tears in their eyes and after seeing her cry I was one of those parents crying as well.

Next week is our big spring concert. Our middle school and upper school bands and choirs are performing. Everything is coming together nicely as we meticulously plan and discuss details related to the concert. The four of us planning this concert don’t agree on everything about this concert, but we are open to talking about ideas and compromising. Every discussion is reinforced with reminders to each other on how we believe in each other’s intentions and are committed to doing what is best for our students. It’s not about being right, but rather doing what is right for our students.

My excitement for next week’s concert is based on our students’ great work, but also on the wonderful collaborative process in preparing for this concert. Yes, it’s important that the concert goes well; however the quality of the process that has gotten us to the concert will determine how we feel about the concert. I am confident that once all the dust has settled, we will be left with pride in our students and each other.

Rep. John Lewis visited our school earlier this week. The Civil Rights icon and American hero surpassed my expectations. I had the opportunity to speak to him briefly and shake his hand. I was awe from the moment he walked on the stage and I still haven’t full processed the fact that I met one of the most important Americans in the history of our country.

Whatever is beyond inspiration is what I felt in his presence.    

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Monday, May 8, 2017

Parenthood: Week 203 - Time-in, Shower Tea Parties and Storytime with Anger

I moved my chair close to Ollie and held the burrito in front of his face and watched him lunge deeply into the filling and take a bite. Ollie muttered “you take a bite,” with a mouth full of beans, rice and meat and I went ahead and took a bite myself. Sharing a burrito, taking turns with each bite was something me and Diana used to do in college. It was cute then, and it’s just as cute doing it with Ollie.

I’m all about nurturing independence in my son, but handing my son a burrito to try to eat by himself is simply a slower version of throwing the burrito on the floor. It’s cute to watch him dive into and immerse himself in the food. What makes this experience so heartwarming is that he makes sure that I get my turn in. As much as I feel like I’m sharing the burrito with him, he feels he is sharing this burrito with me. In this way we both get joy out of giving to each other.

After dinner, Ollie was in a great mood.He asked me to make him a cave out of the couch cushions. I propped up the cushions and gave him a flashlight. Ollie crawled in the cave and after a couple minutes knocked the walls down. He asked me to build it again, which I di and then he would knock them down, sometimes by accident and sometimes on purpose.

“Ollie, we are going to need to clean up and take a shower in a couple minutes,” I warned Ollie. After a some time, I gave a final warning and told Ollie that it was time to clean up. Within a couple seconds, Ollie’s good mood became a tantrum. Ollie’s breathing quickened, and tears seemed to spray out of his eyes. His face got twisted in frustration. Ollie wasn’t making any more than a soft whimpering sound until, I started talking and every time I began a sentence, he would scream.

The scream was piercing, loud, high and harsh. I sat down on the ground and concentrated on making my voice as quiet and as calm as possible. I asked Ollie why he was upset and what he was feeling, but each of my words got covered up by his staccato screams, which only seemed to get louder. I reached out to him, but he snapped his arm away from my grip. I encouraged him to tell me how he felt and explained that it was ok if he was sad that he had to clean up, but he just kept screaming.

I grabbed him and forced him to sit in my lap. I wrapped my arms around him and positioned his arms so that he was hugging himself. This is when the screams that were once interjections became a constant tone. I gave him enough space in my arms to move but not enough for him to get free. I focused on my breathing, moving my breath in and out deliberately, exaggerating my chest movement so Ollie could feel my breath. I coached Ollie softly to breathe deeply.

I felt my arms becoming wet with tears, but I also felt Ollie’s breathing slow down. Eventually his screaming was replaced with the sound of his focused inhalations and exhalations lined up with my own. “Ollie, are you calm?” I asked, “Yes, I am calm now,” he replied.

I opened up my arms, and Ollie stood up and looked at me. His face soaked with tears but now he was relaxed. “Can you help me clean up the cave?” I asked and without resistance, Ollie picked up a cushion and started helping me put the couch back together.

I’ve never done a timeout with Ollie, but I do these “time-ins.” Ollie doesn’t always know hot to calm himself down and how to deal with his emotions. There is merit in giving a child space to calm down and think about their behavior, but I’ve never felt the right time to go make Ollie sit in chair. Instead, I hold him close to me, counter his energy with calmness and teach him techniques to calm himself down.

Shower time was fun. Ollie brought his tea set into the shower. So there was a couple minutes where we both sat on the floor of the tub with shampoo in our hair as we pretending to drink the tea Ollie had just poured.

Diana was out of the house, so I was on my own. To distract Ollie from this fact, I told him that I would read him three books. He chose Ida Always, a beautiful book about the death of a polar bear at a zoo and how her friend deals with this loss. My Heart Is A Zoo, a cute book with animals made up of heart shapes and Dr. Seuss classic, The Lorax.

Instead of reading books on the rocking chair, we now read in bed. Ollie climbs in first, I ask him to scoot over, he often doesn’t scoot far enough over so I lay on top of him and he eventually moves giggling under my weight. We get “cozy,” which means we get under his comforter. He insisted that his anger stuffed toy from Inside Out read with us, so he reached to the foot of the bed where he placed his other stuffed toys and carefully positioned him between us.

As I started reading he pulled my right arm up. At first I wasn’t sure what he wanted, but then I realized he just wanted me to put my arm around him. As I read about the polar bears, I felt his cold feet tuck between my legs. Like me, Ollie doesn’t like to wear socks to bed and while feeling ice cold feet on my legs is uncomfortable, it’s cute feeling him trying to get warm against my body.

After the third book, I gave Ollie one more kiss and a hug and reminded him that I was proud of him, that he was my special little guy and that I loved him. I went downstairs to do some dishes.

About half an hour later, I went upstairs to get something out of our bedroom and I found Ollie on our bed, lying on my side, cuddled up against my pillow. I’m not sure if Ollie comes into my bed because he likes my Tempur-pedic pillow or because he finds my smell comforting. Either way, I find it meaningful that he finds comfort sharing the same spot that brings me a feeling of safety and security as I sleep.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Year 7: Week 32 - Dulcimers!

Why dulcimers? Well, I like teaching an instrument I have never studied or performed on, that I only have limited experience actually playing (I’m being sarcastic). More than that, there was really no reason why not. [click here for pictures]

One of the great things about my school is the spirit of collaboration and interest interdisciplinary work. People love working together at my school and the fact that we have close to ample preparation time, allows us to build relationships and put projects together. Also, many teachers on their own like to do interdisciplinary work. I’m currently doing a project involving children’s books in music and one of the art teachers loves doing projects where students make musical instruments. It never lined up that any of the instruments he had the students make, were taught in music class. It’s an idea that we both loved, but we never put in the effort. Combining the art teacher's love of integrating music into art and the great spirit of collaboration, we settled on piloting a dulcimer project with our 3rd graders this school year.

A dulcimer is a three string guitar-like instrument. The fret board is diatonic so it’s easy to pick out melodies and is placed on the lap. In many ways it’s a simple version of a guitar. This is an American folk instrument that lined up with our study of American pioneer culture. I don’t remember when I first heard a teacher play a dulcimer but I knew the instrument was from Backyard music  They sell these dulcimer kits which are fairly simple to put together. The sound is impressive for the price and the materials. It’s a real instrument; it’s not a toy and after getting one and learning to play it, I got excited about doing this with my students.

I needed help though. When I brought this instrument to the art teacher, he got excited about this project and agreed to help the kids put it together during shop class. Another art teacher agreed to help them decorate their instruments. We got administrative support and we went for it.

I bought every single “how to play dulcimer” book that I could find. Practiced over the summer and still didn’t quite feel like I know what I was doing by the time the dulcimers were made and in stacks in a storage closet next to my music room.

So storage is an issue. Where do you put 57 dulcimers? I tried a couple things but ended up using these metal storage shelves. They are pretty light and not too tall, so I just put extra shelves on one shelving unit and got the instruments on it. I had to label the ends so that the kids could find them easily. Finding picks took some doing as well, I ended up with large triangular thin Fender picks.

I got figured out a book to use, and got storage set up and now it was time to teach kids how to play the dulcimer. I went over some basics, handed out picks and realized, I had no idea how to teach kids how to hold picks. One of the other music teachers showed me how to teach kids to make a shark fin with the pick to teach proper pick grip. That was really helpful and worked well after I failed to instruct the first class how to hold that little piece of plastic.

That was only the first of many trial and error teaching things that happened with teaching the dulcimer. I figured out how to tune 57 dulcimers before school (I stopped using a tuner and just put on a cello drone), came up with creative metaphors to teach technique and now we’ve been rolling for a couple weeks. The kids can accompany themselves with some simple chords and they can pick up “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.”

I love that some of my students who haven’t shown a lot of interest in other activities we’ve done in music class have loved working with their dulcimers. I also thinks it’s great that I have students who are usually leaders in every other activity music class, are challenged by the dulcimer. This dulcimer project is about collaboration with teachers, giving kids ownership and pride in art and music (there’s something so special about playing an instrument that you made). It’s about making connections to their social studies curriculum and learning musical concepts. This project is about keeping me on my toes and stretching my practice as a teacher by bracing the challenge of teaching something I’ve never taught before.

More than all of this, this project is about diversity. It’s about teaching music in another way to encourage student engagement. It’s about embracing a diversity in learning styles and ensuring all students through different avenues have a way to experience and grow through the study of music.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Monday, May 1, 2017

Parenthood: Week 202 – Why Modern Parents Rock

Instead of responding directly to common arguments about why modern parents are messing up the current generation of children, I’m going to talk about why modern parents these days are amazing. Similar to some of the criticism of “parents these days,” my observations are based on personal anecdotal encounters and not on quantitative studies based on representative population or qualitative research, carefully done over long periods of time.  These generalizations of course do not apply to all modern parents.

We see the future.
Parents these days understand that the choices they make now will affect their children’s future. There are more parenting books, blogs and online discussion groups about parenting then ever before.  This come from an understanding that parenting is important and that parents are eager to get things right. Yes, it is crazy to plan which college your toddler is going to, however making choices to help your child reach that stage of their lives is providing an important longitudinal perspective. The focus on the future is sometimes detrimental, but it can lead parents to slow down and focus on the moment. Many parents realize that it is the quality of the moment that leads to a brighter future. A kid is a lot more likely to reach a brighter future if parents envision it for their children.

We care about feelings.
The generation, many of which who grew up watching Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood now watch Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood with their children. Both shows teach people how to handle feelings through acceptance, and validation. Gone for many parents is the notion that you can talk about your feelings too much and the idea that there are “bad” and “good” feelings. In its place are parents who encourage their children to talk about their feelings, express themselves, and feel comfortable with the spectrum of emotions. While I’m not sure how to feel about the fact that one of Ollie’s favorite toys is a stuffed Anger toy from Inside Out, I’m glad that he has the words to talk about how he feels that he learned from this film.

We see gender differently.
Yes, it’s annoying that toy aisles in stores are so clearly separated by gender and boys clothing is dominated by graphics with sports iconography and cars. However, it’s encouraging that so many parents are annoyed about these issues. From female leads in action films like Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens and more inclusive toy lines like Legos with new sets geared towards girls, it has become clear that parents have different expectations for gender identity than previous generations.

Gender stereotypes are still pervasive in all parts of our culture, and affect our children from the day that they are born, but what is different is that parents these days are aware of this fact. They are actively doing things like making sure that they have children’s books that have female main characters or encouraging their children to name their stuffed animals non-gender specific names. Modern parents' awareness of these issues is changing the conversation around genders in ways that no generation of parents have ever done before.

We accept the plurality.
More then any other generation, parents these days welcome the possibility that their children may be homosexual, transgender, may marry someone outside of their race, may not have children, may end up choosing their own religion, break out of gender norms or be a student with special needs. We have evolved from not even considering these possibilities to dreading these outcomes to preparing our children to celebrate these facets of identity in who they may become and the people in their lives. One of the most important ways that we make progress is how we raise the next generation. With parents these days, we are heading into a huge jump ahead in the next generation, for justice, diversity and inclusion.