My son loves taking things apart and putting them back together. Lego minifigures. Puzzles. If you give him some stickers, he’ll rip them into smaller pieces so that he can put them back together again.
Today he noticed the mole on my neck, just behind my ear.
“Come off?” he asked, picking at it.
I assured him that the mole was part of me and wouldn’t come off.
I hoped this would go smoothly, like the conversation during his bath a few days before about his head. Thinking about the heads on his Star Wars Legos, he turned his head back and forth and pretended to give it a gentle yank.
“Mine head come off?” he asked. “No,” I said. “You’re not a toy. You’re a person. Your head doesn’t come off.”
“Oh…” He sat with that for a minute. “Stormtroopers toys. Heads come off!”
After that conversation in the tub, it seemed like he’d found the line between how toys and human bodies work.
But after a few attempts to convince him that my moles were staying put, he came back yelling “Mole come off!”
Many, many times.
He needed a snack. In the end, it probably wasn’t about my moles at all.
Thinking back on it now, being two doesn’t seem to be the only explanation.
Frustration and anger create loops: This thing is wrong, and it is still wrong once I’ve noticed how wrong it is.
I spent part of my morning venting and retweeting about the most recent school shooting in this country. Raging about the people so convinced that the only right that matters is individual freedom, and that being asked to make any concession for the good of the group is a non-starter.
Their altar to unfettered personal freedom sits under a gnarled tree fed with the blood of children. It is forever thirsty.
But these are just words.
I might as well have been yelling about being angry that I can’t pull a mole off my neck with my fingers like I’m a Lego person.
This isn’t to say that people can’t change, or that hearts and minds can’t be won over. I don’t want to toss up my hands in some nihilistic shrug that this is just how we have to live.
But spending time online venting about it did nothing. Appeals for change or action pass unacknowledged into the void.
Any action that’s going to create real change won’t come through a survey, contact form, or social media post. The channels are built to let you feel heard, not to make sure you’re listened to.
I don’t know what that next step is yet. But I know our children aren’t toys. They can’t just be put back together or replaced if they’re damaged beyond repair.