My Dad Hits My Mom / Dora Leonor Mesa

“In my house there is no peace,” comments the little boy, age 4, to his surprised grandma.

“What are you talking about?” asks the woman, very worried. In her years as a lawyer she’d never heard a child speak this way, much less her oldest grandson.

“My dad hits my mom,” the boy responded with confidence.

“That can’t be. You father is a loving husband and good father,” the grandmother said and in some way managed to change to topic of the conversation, so as to find out what happened as soon as he was left.

Todd Parr wrote a book for children called, “The Book of Peace.” Ever since I was given a copy I’ve loved it, and I use it to prepare for a class for the nursery schools we teach.

“Peace is Making Friends,” I read out loud and the commotion of greetings and shows of affection begins with the little girl who makes “PEACE.”

“Peace is keeping the water blue for all the fish.” While they loudly identify the different fish and some mention the National Aquarium and the candies they ate. We talk about garbage, the cleanliness of the sea and the streets. The importance of not throwing papers on the floor because the caregivers have to clean up after them and it’s tiring…

“Peace is saying you’re sorry when you hut someone.” We learn to apologize, we talk about how painful pinching is, pushing for something we don’t like…

“Peace is helping your neighbors,” “…reading the books you want,” “…thinking about someone you love,” “peace is learning to be yourself”…

We end the class in PEACE, we kiss in Peace, we say goodbye in Peace…

On December 22 — Teachers Day in Cuba — the owner of a nursery school tells me a grandmother wants to see me. Faced with such a smiling person I have no idea what it’s about, and then she tells me about the conversation between the little boy and herself, who because of her work is very aware of the domestic violence that plagues so many Cuban families.

The lady confronted her son, father of the preschooler, who faints from embarrassment before his mother telling her of the slap on the bottom he gives his wife as a greeting every day when he gets home from work.

According to Parr himself, the little one couldn’t understand the influence that one person exerts over another living elsewhere in the world. Mr Todd Parr, with his work, part of the proceeds from which are dedicated to UNICEF, teaches us the value of peace. The effect even an intimate greeting can have, making a child and his family worry.

I take the opportunity to apologize to Parr for taking the teachings from his text and should do the same with the little boy to remind me, one more time, what talented observers the little children of the world are, valuable beings, like my little Cuban children.

December 28 2011