It’s easy for our children to be involuntarily subjected to a world full of hate nowadays. Impatient drivers flip ‘the bird’ and yell obscenities at me as they dangerously zoom past my carload of children. A gridlocked lady sarcastically claps from the safety of her vehicle as my friend kindheartedly moves a garbage can blocking traffic, in plain view of her puzzled daughter. Protests and counter-protests in anger block our streets as my family bikes downtown. The 24-hour sensational news is not easily consumable by children. Sometimes I cannot help but visualize pink slime boiling in our sewers fueled by hatred and anger akin to New York City in Ghostbusters II!
As a mother with clandestine experience, I recently reached my internal boiling point and decided to make it our charge to spread love throughout the day, albeit in disguise. Boys, I smiled, “I mustache you to spread some love today!” My son and his buddy enthusiastically accepted their mission and fulfilled it with a youthful zest for life, recharging my soul.
I blame my insanity on a Portland bridge incident a few weeks ago… You see, my 7-year-old was gleefully ringing his new bike bell as we passed pedestrians on the sidewalk of the bridge. As we approached a large group of seniors from behind who were parading across the bridge, my son rang his bell. Menacingly, an older man yelled, “Get in the street! The bike lane is in the street.” I politely said, “Sir, he’s seven and that’s unsafe,” to which the irate man proceeded to holler rules at us as we biked on. I couldn’t help but retort, “now more then ever, this world needs more love and less hatred!” as tears welled in my eyes and I explained to my son that he had done everything right. Needless to say, I cynically plotted to undermine the anger issues of this mustached man…
Today’s a new day, I rationalized to myself with a smile the next morning as we adhered mustaches preparing to journey to the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI) along the Springwater Corridor, a bustling bike pathway, consciously avoiding bridges along the way. Ironically, my son’s friend proclaimed, “I want the spy mustache!”
I’d be a rich woman if I had a dollar for everyone who noticed. Passersby cheered, “nice stache!” “You grow a better mustache than me!” exclaimed an older gentleman. “Where can we get a mustache like that?” inquired children. Smiles abounded and people laughed, as everyone’s mood was immediately altered, transfixed by the innocence and creativity of children. Mission accomplished.
The boys wore those mustaches throughout OMSI while learning science in disguise. They didn’t seem affected by the celebrity nature of their appearance or their positive impact. Yet, a virtual tsunami of love triumphed that day and perhaps the boiling slime dissipated as well. The experience was equally transformative for me as a parent.
I urge you to courageously spread love as a family everyday. Be gracious to the intolerant, simply smile and wave, and demonstrate to children that they have the ability to change the world. Moreover, it never hurts to keep a few mustaches in the drawer for inspiration!
My name is Kristen Downs. I'm a former CIA agent; commercial banking officer; community activist; non-profit board president; marketing fundraiser; events coordinator; and recent director for the U.S. Olympic Museum.Above all else, I'm a mom to four school-age children in Portland, Oregon. As a woman who's always put family first with no regrets, I've emerged a Jane Bond/Jill-Of-All-Trades and I look forward to sharing my adventures with you!