By Breanna Lathrop
My one-and-a-half-year-old points out any dog within a half-mile radius any time we are out. “Harry!!!” She yells, waiving at the dog. Harry is the name of our dog at home.
“Yes,” I answer trying to encourage her while gently correcting, “that’s a dog!” She gives me a look like, that’s what I just said, Mom. Her insistence on calling all dogs “Harry” is endearing and developmentally appropriate. Right now, her world is very small. Everyone and everything revolves around her.
However, she’ll learn quickly that she is just one small part of a big world. My five-year-old tells me regularly that I’m the best mommy in the world. The other night he paused and said, “Mom, do you think all kids think their mom is the best one in the world?” He’s recognizing more and more that other people might not think just like him.
I’ve been wondering recently if there comes a point when our world stops expanding. Do we get to a point where we stop maturing? Cognitively we understand that there are people all around us living very different lives with different narratives and opinions, yet we don’t live like we do. When I consider my own life, I don’t think this was intentional. It seems difficult enough to manage my own life- work, kids, our home, and our community. It’s hard to find time to really get to know the neighbors let alone consider the needs of people a few blocks or states away.
Yet, there is inherent danger in letting my worldview stay small. The more I focus on my life and the people closest to me, the easier it is to loose sight of what is happening in the world around me. It is easier not to read or hear views that are different from my own when I can simply reinforce what I want to hear. It is easier to make decisions considering only my needs but much harder if I am also aware of how structural decisions impact other communities.
The danger in calling all dogs “Harry” is that most dogs have a different name. If I’m not finding ways to challenge my worldview, it’s a problem because most of the world is not white, American, upper-middle class. I’ve been thinking about this more recently. How am I making space to hear other peoples’ narratives? How am I changing my behaviors based on a better understanding of other people’s experiences? I don’t have it figured out, but as I watch my baby girl’s world grow, I am determined to grow my own.