When you become a parent, no one tells you how scary the world will become. How you’ll worry about everything. How you’ll turn the world upside down and inside out to keep your kids happy, healthy and safe. You’ll buy the best car seats and make them hold your hand when you cross the street. Wear safety equipment to ride their bike in your driveway. Lather up in sunblock anytime they are outside.
The news has been filled with stories lately of teenagers who are killing themselves in large part due to bullying. As a parent- as a person– that makes me sick to my stomach and my heart ache. These kids parents probably bought the best car seats for their kids too- but they couldn’t keep their kids safe.
For the first time in his short life, Scorch was faced with kids who were mean last year in his 3 year old pre-school class. Kids who called names, who teased and who made my son cry. These kids teased everyone- Scorch was never, to the best of my knowledge, singled out. As the kids matured and the school year progressed, the teasing stopped.
But, it tied me up in knots and gave me one more things to worry about.
My parents gave me a lot of gifts in my life, but the greatest one they ever gave me was my sense of self worth and value. Thanks to them, I never really worried about people not liking me- why wouldn’t people like me? I pray every day the Hubs and I can teach Scorch and Bean that they are good enough, that they are worth of respect and love and friendship. That they should never, ever have to apologize or feel badly for who they are.
I also pray we raise them with enough compassion and grace to be kind to those that are different. To be accepting. To champion the underdog and not to stand for malice and meanness at other people’s expense. My kids are being raised in the middle of nowhere where there isn’t a lot of diversity, so “different” is going to stand out like a sore thumb. I hope we can raise our kids to celebrate different and not ridicule it.
The conversations now with Scorch are simple and straight forward- be kind to others, tell Mommy & Daddy if someone is being mean to you, stand up for yourself and your friends, don’t be mean to the other kids. But by starting them now, I’m hoping the Hubs and I can help raise a generation of kids who don’t stand for what’s happening today.
Lawyer or trash collector. Gay or straight. None of that matters to me. Happy, healthy, alive– those are my parenting goals. Hopefully by talking to my kids now- today- about all this will result in just that.