“Mom… what does ‘anti-Muslim’ mean?”

I planned to kick off my revived blogging with a “year in review” post, because 2014 was a bit of a doozy for us around here. But the Munchkin managed to blow my mind this evening. Again. So I’m starting there instead.

The Munchkin can be deceptively observant. For those of you playing the home game, my Munchkin has PDD-NOS (a high-functioning autism spectrum disorder) and ADHD. He tends to be easily distracted, going a million miles a minute in 14 directions, and often it seems like he’s not picking up on the obvious.

But every once in a while, heĀ surprises me.

It is not uncommon for him to strike up a conversation with me at bedtime. Some nights, this is a very obvious stall tactic. But sometimes, I think it has more to do with that being a few minutes of the day with minimal other distractions, and he has Mommy’s attention. The topics that come up range from the scientific…

“Mom, did you know that your heart pumpsĀ this much blood through your body every minute? And that it goes through your whole vascular system, like tubes?”
Ed note: he was only 4 when we had that convo!

… to something he has heard on the news…

“Mommy, I feel so sad for all those children in Haiti who lost their parents in the earthquake.”

… to the heartbreaking…

“Mommy… do I really have to go to Daddy’s this weekend? I want to stay with you…”

So what did my ginger-haired progeny sideswipe me with tonight?

“Mom, what does ‘anti-Muslim and anti-Jewish’ mean?”

Oh boy.

As it turns out, he happened across something in my Facebook feed that mentioned the current anti-Muslim marches happening in Germany.

I spent the next 20 minutes trying to explain – in terms he could understand, and drawing correlations to stories he was already somewhat familiar with (i.e. Abraham Lincoln and the Emancipation Proclamation, et al) – what anti-Muslim meant, why it was related to antisemitism, what religion is supposed to do versus what some people use it to do, and why it was important for us to understand and respect other peoples thoughts and beliefs and cultures, even if they are different from us.

His attention span can be fairly short at times, but he seemed to be following me pretty well this time (which was impressive, because this conversation touched on WWII, the Holocaust, the Civil War, racism, homophobia… just a hodge-podge of things following his train of thought and trying to make it relatable). I don’t know how much he really understood, but I think he grasped my main point, which I reiterated again at the end: sometimes people are mean, and it’s up to us to spread love.

I tucked him in. He said his prayers. We snuggled for a minute, and he beat me to our little game of seeing who can say faster “I love you to infinity and beyond.” And then, just as I was turning out the lights, he said:

“But Mom… WHY would anyone not like someone because of THAT?”

Oh, Munchkin… I wish I knew.

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