Exemplary Kindness Goes a Long Way
Thanks for stopping by. It means a lot to me because this is my VERY FIRST blog post. And I’m diving right into some super relevant topics.
I had grand plans of my first blog post being more of an introduction about who I am and how I got writing. But the writing bug hit hard today so all the superfluous niceties will just have to wait.
Not all my blogs will be as long, or as meaty. I promise. But today it is because…it’s Pink Shirt Day today!! A day dedicated to anti bullying. If you live under a rock (just kidding…sort of) and simply have never heard of it, check it out here!
This day hits home for me already.
One thing I’ll tell you, if you don’t already know me, is that I have two daughters and the road of parenting has been hella fast paced, windy, and well let’s face it, we’ve it some speed bumps on the way.
When I say fast paced, I seriously mean it. My super chunk first born is now nearly 6 going on16 and is in Kindergarten. We’ll call her T-Dot here for the sake of her privacy.
We had a very important first milestone as the parents of a Kindergartener recently. T-Dot got her first report card. Dun dun dun!!! Welp!
I had a very real parenting moment just before opening it, wondering about what little gems (or crappy tidbits) I was going to learn about my kid at school.
It turns out my kid is gem!! I mean, I’m biased and always thought that, but there is something about a 3rd party professional kidlet wrangler confirming this for me. T-Dot got pretty great scores all around, but here’s the part that made me a really proud momma.
T-Dot’s teacher, marked her as having “Exemplary Strengths” in these Citizenship and Character areas:
E.X.E.M.P.L.A.R.Y. That’s a big word, especially for a kid in Kindy.
As she pulled her pink as pink can be t-shirt on this morning, I explained the reason for this day. I explained that everyone deserves to be treated fairly. And everyone has a responsibility to speak out against mean behavior to stop it.
She understands bullying already at the tender age of 5 and ¾. Not as the bully, but as the kid who has already experienced it. Those who maybe got a “Network of Support Required” grade on their report card for these skills, the grade that essentially says your kid really needs help in this area, have bullied my sweet babe.
I am scared for my gentle little soul who doesn’t understand why others don’t treat her the way she treats them. I hear about the unfairness of it all at the dinner table and my heart aches as I contemplate how this could manifest, as she gets older.
As we talked this morning, I couldn’t help notice that my words were echoing a lot of the work I’ve been doing in my full time gig that helps to keep the lights on. Yes, you may be surprised to know that an indie author with one book out (soon to be two) hasn’t yet retired. Although I will not let go of the dream!!
But I digress…
Anti bullying may seem like a simple concept, but I see it going hand in hand with issues of racism and inequity. Sure, kids can be jerks about pretty much anything. Like the MC Hammer pants I wore everyday for year when I was younger until someone told me they looked stupid. Jerky behavior from young kids in class that isn’t nipped in the bud potentially results in grown adults who learned it’s all right to be a jerk.
I’ve been thinking about the connection between bullying, racism and inequity all day. Some may think it’s a big leap. But I think that drawing parallels between schoolroom taunting about a boy wearing a pink shirt, to racism and inequity makes sense.
We often talk about bullying in reference to what happens to and with children. But the same behavior in adults has created massive systemic issues that this generation of children will either learn to break and fix, or perpetuate.
I believe that teaching my daughter to be brave to stand up for herself, will then translate into her being brave to stand up for others. That the unfairness and bullying she experiences as a kid will help her to tackle unjust behaviour as an adult.
Now, I want to be clear that I am in no way comparing the bullying my Caucasian 5 year has experienced in class to that of generations of people who have been oppressed. My daughter’s have privilege that they need to understand and therefore tread carefully. I will continue to make them aware of this, so they are able to approach these issues with an open and humble heart.
During my pondering today I remembered this blurb I came across at work while working on a project about equity that really struck me. So I’m sharing it with you all on this Pink Shirt Day. February also happens to be Black History Month, so this feels even more poignant.
Anti-racism work is based on the fundamental belief that all humans deserve equitable treatment. That no matter who you are, you have a right to be treated fairly, without bias. And yet, when we talk about Black, Indigenous, and people of colour, why do we refer to them as “equity-seeking” rather than “equity-deserving”? Think about it. To seek something is to ask for something from someone else. And if equity is a right, which it is, no one should be put into the position of having to ask for it. The act of asking for something puts the asker in a vulnerable position. The asker assumes all the risk: the risk of appearing needy and the risk of having to give control over to someone else. And what of the person or group being asked? The “askee” becomes the one with all the power – the power to give, the power to deny, and the power to look the other way.
Reference: Kwantlen Polytechnic University
The key concept that ties these concepts all together for me is the word “DESERVING”. I think it applies to bullying, racism and inequity in a few different ways:
And the one that drives much of my writing right now, is:
I wonder what would happen if the idea of deserving was held at the heart of all these issues?
I really appreciate both phrases “Exemplary Strengths” and “Network of Support Required”.
It’s easy to take the statements from T-Dot’s report card for face value. But I would like to add value to these statements. After the equity work I’ve been involved in lately, here are some “Exemplary Strengths” I think are needed to tackle bullying, racism and inequity:
I also don’t think only kids who struggle in the areas of Citizenship and Character require “Network of Support”. I think everyone does, in different ways.
Some ideas about what supports bullies need are:
Network of support ideas for equity-deserving groups could include:
But what about people like my daughter? And maybe yours? The kid who is very quickly learning about bullying in school. The kid who is exposed to diverse ideas and people, now more than ever. The kid who is learning to navigate what being a kind person actually means?
What Network of Support do they need?
What else would you add to this list? I’d love to hear about it in the comments.
I hope we can all behave in a way that awards you (and your kiddos) an exemplary grade in kindness, respect and acceptance, today and everyday.
Until next time friends,
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