Good evening, dear reader
It has been some time since I've written a blog entry. Oh, I've done some writing in my journal, and I've done some work on a story, but I've not put anything here in this category for a while. And so tonight, I write. I write because I have a question. And I write because I am curious. And this post is very relevant and probably fairly similar to a post I made a little while ago. And I'm going to address it again...and again...and again. And so, before I ask my question, I want to clarify something. Nobody is perfect, and I don't want to give the impression that they are. I'm not perfect, you're not perfect, my kids aren't perfect and neither are yours. I am not looking at my question through rose-colored glasses. I am looking at my question through tears. And yes, that may blur my vision a bit. Hopefully you can read my typing...
So, a brief discussion leading up to my question. I believe it is natural for kids to come home from school and talk about their day. I would hope that parents ask about how things went. I would hope that parents are interested in the events of the day, both good and bad. I strongly suspect that most of us do that. We invest time and money into the education of our children. We want what's best for them. I would hope that we all take the education of our children seriously. And I would hope that we all interact with our kids when they get home and talk about their day. And now, with all that being said, I ask you this: do kids come home from school and in the course of their 'day report', talk and laugh about how they made a fellow student feel bad? Do they talk and laugh about how they pushed a fellow student into the bathroom stall door? Do they go so far as to laugh and talk about how they even ganged up on a child...three on one? Does this happen?
This is a serious question, dear reader. Serious because I don't know the answer. Serious because it refers to a very serious topic. If anyone is reading this and thinking that they don't have to take this serious, then I beg you to re-consider. Please read what I said in my introduction about perfection. There is none. I know the answer to my question when I talk to my kids. They tell me what I want to hear. It is only after some more conversation that I find out they were mean to somebody. Or that they said something they shouldn't have, or acted out in a rude and disruptive way. But they don't willingly offer me that information. The beauty of these conversations is that it leads to some very important life lessons that both children and adults need to learn, and learn again. Not one of us has an ounce of perfection in them. And so, we talk about what sort of behaviour is appropriate, what sort of actions, gestures and looks are not meeting expectations, and most importantly what we are going to do about it.
But, I have concerns, dear reader that there are not enough of these conversations happening. I know that I don't talk to my kids near enough about this stuff. Yes, I am writing this stuff to me...if you want to read it and maybe use some of it, that is great. But I am seriously working on the plank in my own eye. I don't even see if there is a speck in yours, so please don't attack me for what I say. As I started saying, I have concerns. When I see or hear of a child coming home from school mentally worn down and discouraged, I think we have a problem. When I see or hear of a young boy or girl wondering if it is all worth it, I believe we have a problem. When I see or hear of a young boy or girl getting ganged up on by 2 or 3 of his or her peers, I know we have a problem.
This leads to another question. Why on earth is this crap still happening? Are we as parents failing so miserably that our children think that bullying is acceptable? Are we as parents actually showing encouragement through our silence? I sure hope not, but I think I'm partially wrong. I really don't think that we as parents want our kids to hurt other kids. I have a hard time buying into that. No, I think that we just need to ask the right questions. Our children need to be held accountable. Who's job is it to do that? I believe it is the parents, with involvement from the school system, whether private or public or separate.
I don't think this particular conversation includes homeschoolers, only for the fact that your kids don't have the same level of public interaction that non-homeschooled kids have. But that doesn't mean I think homeschooled kids are better...nothing is farther from the truth. They are no different in that respect. I've seen homeschool kids bullying other kids. And I've seen the parents laugh it off, admiring little Johnny for being so creative in their interactions, totally ignoring the fear and tears in the other child's eyes. So again, nobody and no system is perfect.
But, I digress. Yes, I do think the school system has a responsibility to educate the children in proper behaviour and treatment of others. And I do think that educators can teach their charges about the effects of bullying, whether intentional or not. And I know of a teacher that wants to do just that...and to me, that breeds a lot of respect. If parents and teachers work together to teach children about how much pain can be caused by a little word, then I really believe we can change things around. Oh, there will always be that one child with a mean streak. I'm still not naive, and I still don't have my rose colored glasses on. And there will always be personality conflicts...in kids and adults. That is just the way it is.
But I firmly resolve to ask my children the right questions. I am determined to find out their indiscretions. And I am bound by my word that I will teach my kids not to laugh at the misfortune or hurt of another. They will be held accountable. And that is part of the lesson I will hold fast to. The other part is this: I can't work change in anyone but myself and my children. So my kids need to know that when they are the targets, the sad reality is that I am powerless. Daddy cannot help except bind up the wound a little tighter. And so, through my own hurt, I teach my children to cope. To cope in a world that doesn't seem to care about asking the right questions. To cope with the pain of words that have been forged into swords. To cope with reality that others aren't accountable. Yes dear reader, I hope you can read this. For it is stained with my tears.
I have many thoughts on this, been thinking a lot about this considering our kids’ experiences (yup, my glasses)…and a line in a book I am reading hit me…”abuse is when there is a lack of empathy”. (couldn’t find the quote back yet as I just started the book but it was a line I saw as I flipped through). Makes me wonder if we concentrate too hard on punitive justice and not enough on restorative justice? Are we really teaching our kids to be sympathetic, empathetic, or excusing “roughing someone up” and the others’ tears by “they’re just a wuss/crybaby”? They need to ‘tough up’? Easy to be sympathetic when we know the horror of soemone’s situation, but not if we don’t know the details of someone’s life/struggles, but they just look unhappy all the time/cry easily?
Just a few thoughts of a multitude.