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2018-01-11 / Voices

Watching Your Children Grow Is A Gift

BY DANA LONE ELK
OGLALA LAKOTA

There is one thing I am very grateful to my parents for, other than life and love and the many other things they attributed to my life. I am thankful they let me grow to be the person I am. They never were involved in my drama, my trauma, or my relationships. They never told me what to do or how to be in life. They let me grow to be the person I am and along the way the many elders and grandmothers and grandfathers who influenced me did also. I knew I could go to them with questions and for guidance and the occasional twenty bucks, sometimes more and sometimes less. But they never shadowed or smothered me or fought my demons and battles for me. They allowed me to find my inner strength that way and always encouraged me to be about the Lakota way of life. I find that part to be the most important, that I was raised traditionally. I feel lucky in a way because it kept me grounded.

We live in a world where generations grow weaker because parents don’t let their children wander anymore, don’t let them explore who they are, and why should they when the internet and social media is in their face 24 hours a day and seven days a week. I try to after my many failures in life and disappointments in myself as a woman and mother be the example to them, even if it is to show them that in all my failures and setbacks, I have survived and healed. Recreating and reviving one’s spirit is of utmost importance and every individual should know that.

I also know as parents, the hardest thing to do when your child is an adult is to let them be one. But it is a necessity in life and something Lakota people trained their children for since they were children. Young boys were taught games that would come into play later in life to be a warrior. Small games such as walking without making a noise. Girls were working alongside their mother learning butchering, tanning, construction. They learned how to use plants while gather roots and berries for teas. Every plant was a gift and it held a certain respect among every individual tribe. If you think of the importance of everything back then, every bead was set in place with an intention. To show love and honor in the design that belonged to the family. Dirt was gathered for dye for the paint the men used before a battle. Everything had meaning and represented something to someone. And children grew up knowing this.

Today children grow up and are still called children. I make the mistake of calling my sons my kids then I feel silly because they are grown men with responsibilities to pay rent and bills and I am fortunate to be able to live with them until I find my spot in this world. I worry for my daughter for the day I am not here, but I know she will hopefully listen to the words I say, and I make her do things for me that even though I know she hates as any brand-new teen age girl does, she will know these things being an adult. I try to teach them the importance of listening.

This is my message to them. You are not my friend, you are the beautiful soul that choose me to be your mother. I cannot and will not fight your battles for you. I will not make your wrongs right. That is something you have to do and learn otherwise you will never know how to go be in the world without me. I will not get involved in your relationships, if you love someone enough to share your life with them, I will love them too for sharing that life together and you will both have my respect. I will never hate who you choose to spend your life with, I will never be involved in your drama, and I won’t tell you solutions to fix it. You are my children, but you grew up and all I have to offer now is a hug and the knowledge I passed one. Just be good people. And do the same for your children, just don’t have the failures I had, but if you do I will still be your mother and love you.

I do this because they won’t always have me. You can only defend your children so much, until they are adults. Then you can just be there for them.

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