My heart is hurting right now.

When my 9-year old daughter came home from school the other day, I asked her how her day was. She replied that it “wasn’t too good” and she was sad. I asked her what had happened, and she followed up with, “I sat by myself at recess.” My heart hurts.

Of course, I enquired more at this point because recess is her favorite part of the day. She said she badly wanted to play tag with a group of kids, but one of the kids told her she couldn’t because she was too slow. Another little boy attempted to speak up for her and say that she could play if she wanted to, but the other kid wasn’t having it. He repeated, “No, she can’t play tag. She’s too slow. Go do something else.”

Not good enough.

Trying not to cry, she ran away from their game to another area on the playground. She looked around to see if she could find one of her few friends, and eventually she found 2 girls that she thought were her friends, who were chatting with a girl from another class that she didn’t know. She approached them, hoping to join in their conversation, but that didn’t happen. The girl she didn’t know, just looked at her and told her to “Go away and leave us alone.” Her “friends” followed the unknown girl as they all walked away from my daughter. At this point, my daughter just went and sat by herself.

Rejection.

Many days, I hear about “girl drama” in her classroom. She’s in the third grade. There was “girl drama” last year too, which by the way was her first year at this school. We moved in the middle of the school year, so she started in January after Christmas break.

Disruptive.

There was lots of trouble with integrating and finding new friends because apparently, her classmates immediately pegged her as “different” because she was quiet and followed the rules. Apparently, following the rules isn’t that important in the classroom any longer. I guess they are more like guidelines than rules.

Devalued.

There was one sweet little girl, who befriended her right away, and thank goodness, she is still in her class this year.

Valued.

Another day, she was made fun of for being in Venture, which is the gifted class. As her class was sitting down at the lunch table, another kid commented to her, “Oh you’re in that class for stupid people.” She didn’t know how to respond, so she was just quiet. That day she came home and asked me if Venture was for stupid kids.

Humiliation.

Another day, a student splattered apple sauce on her coat at lunch because another student dared her to do it. Another day, a student snatched her hash brown off of her lunch tray and licked it so my daughter wouldn’t protest and take it back. She said she was one of the “mean” girls in her class. Now the entire class has assigned seats at lunch because of behavior and my daughter sits by her. “She thinks she is the best at everything, but she is mean to people.”

Degraded.

She was getting ready for school the other morning, and as she placed the Velcro strap across the top of her shoe above her stretchy laces, she told me she needed a new pair of tennis shoes. Granted, she is wearing a pair of $60 Nike’s that are still in great condition since they are only a few months old. I asked her why she thought she needed a new pair and she replied, that her shoes were baby shoes. She had picked them out, when we bought them. I asked what made her think they were baby shoes and she said that she heard someone tell another kid that he had on baby shoes because his shoes had Velcro. She said the kid didn’t see the Velcro on hers because she tucked her feet under her so he couldn’t see.

Not good enough.

I could go on and on, but the more incidents I tell you about, the sadder I get.

I will remind you. She is in the third grade and all of these incidents have occurred in just the last several weeks. The year isn’t over yet.

Times are changing.

My older two dealt with the pure meanness and bullying too, but they have both graduated now and thank God they survived it and came out the other side. However, I wish I could say there weren’t times when I worried that my oldest daughter wouldn’t make it past 16.

But God…

 

I dealt with this back in school when I was younger too, but it was more covert and thankfully, I had a decent group of friends. I get sometimes you just got to toughen up and deal with stuff. But…

This is different. We live in different times.

Social media and everything on the internet is accessible (good and bad) and not often monitored by many parents. There are so many broken homes, drugs, mental health problems, family chaos, absent parents, or homes where both parents need to work just to provide a home and necessities.

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School Safety is an oxymoron.

Recent school shootings have taken the media by storm. The last few weeks, in our county alone, there have been 4 arrests due to threats of violence. Kids are scared to go to school. Recently, there was a nationwide “school walkout” for 17 minutes to represent the 17 that lost their lives in the Parkland, Florida shooting. It was staged by the students to bring attention to the violence and insist that changes be made.

Suicide rates are at an all time high, and we don’t even know how to track those who have attempted suicide or those that self-harm.

There are all kinds of arguments out there floating around, and I’m not writing this to be political or to encourage more conflict, but my heart hurts for our kids. We are only talking about superficial changes. We aren’t dealing with the root problem.

What is high school going to be like in 6 more years for my daughter, if it is this bad now? My heart hurts for my future grandkids.

I’m concerned!

We have many problems in this country. That is an understatement, for sure.

We do have a problem with how accessible guns are, but it’s not the only problem. Having tighter gun laws doesn’t solve the problem. And with that argument, I still wonder how all the new regulations will make people/criminals obey laws and not kill people. People get in their cars and drive drunk…and kill people too. Guns may be a piece of the puzzle, but you need more than 1 piece to solve the puzzle.

We definitely have a mental health access problem. As a former mental health therapist, I’ve seen it firsthand. People either don’t have health insurance benefits that pay for services or they can’t afford to pay out of pocket for services.

Why were my fees high? Actually, for my area, they were comparable to other counselor’s rates. I’ve got to support my family. I also have to pay off the thousands and thousands of dollars in educational loans, for my master’s degree that I earned after 6 years of blood, sweat, and tears. Yes, education is way too expensive in this country. That’s another problem that I’m not going to get in to right now. In addition to that, I have to pay for my office space and overhead, advertising, yearly association dues, liability insurance costs, continuing education expenses, and of course, my own health insurance.

But even if we were to somehow remove the mental health access issue, there is a definite stigma attached to getting counseling. Generally speaking, in my experience, people don’t get help until they are struggling so bad they can’t function, they’re on the verge of divorce or somebody else compels them to get help.

But that’s what we are focused on in the media.

I’m concerned about something else that we aren’t talking about.

Beyond the kids and the teens, do you know what else I noticed?

Adults are just as mean.

There. I said it. They are.

I was recently a part of a Facebook group that closed down because people are rude. It started out as a group for people in our county to build awareness of county issues or information, to communicate traffic incidents to stay clear of, or road conditions during winter weather. It turned into pure drama. People are just flat out rude. It got to be too much for the administrators to police it, so they closed it up.

Chaos and Rudeness.

I was looking through my Facebook newsfeed and a local Sheriff’s Department had posted a picture of a couple. The picture was on a phone that had been stolen and recovered and the Sheriff’s office was trying to track down the couple to return their phone. There were over 300 comments within a matter of hours. Sure, there were a few that announced that they had shared the post, but the vast majority of commenters were poking fun of and ridiculing the couple in the photo. Then there were a few people that tried to take up for the couple, telling people to stop being so hateful because the police were just trying to get this couple back their phone? Do you know what happened next? Ridicule turned to the commenters trying to bring peace.

Ridicule. Hate. Just Mean.

Hatred is one of the problems and it’s a big one. It crosses racial-lines, class-lines, and throughout humans.

It’s always been there since the beginning. Remember in Genesis? Cain killed his brother, Abel. Jealousy and hatred changed Cain’s heart. He used a rock.

We lack compassion and empathy for fellow humans.

We have become so self-centered that we will say whatever we want to anyone, regardless of the damage it does, because we live in a world where people are mistreated every day and they are supposed to just take it. Every. Single. Day. The ones who can’t take it are belittled and made fun of.

People are expected to carry the weight of scars you can’t see.

Kids are expected to carry the weight of bullying, broken homes, and broken hearts. People say they’ll get over it. They will adjust. Many do. But…

Many don’t.

They are made fun of if they ask for help. And that’s a big IF they ask for help.

Just a little something to ponder …

Psychologist John Gottman did a lengthy study on married couples about positive and negative interactions. And he was able to consistently predict if couples would stay together based on a ratio of 5 positive to 1 negative interaction over a period of 15 minutes. You may be wondering what that has to do with my article…

We wonder what makes people go off and kill or hurt others. We wonder what could bring someone to a place where they really start thinking that not living is their best, and maybe, only option.

Go back and count the negative emotions experienced in this article and tell me… How are kids supposed to continually “take it” when they aren’t even taught how to manage their emotions. For that matter, many adults have trouble managing their emotions.

What happened to the Golden Rule? Do you remember that one? I learned it when I was 5. I raised my kids knowing it.

It’s actually from Luke 6:31. Do to others as you would have them do to you.

It’s that simple. Let me interpret it for you.

Treat others the way you want to be treated. Don’t treat others the way you wouldn’t want to be treated.

Even if you dont believe the Bible as a good manual to live by, what is wrong with this plan?

Be kind to others. Consider for a second that life is hard enough without all the hatred in the world. Consider for a second, that you don’t know what another’s life looks like, or how many bad or traumatic experiences they have dealt with in their life. Why do you want to continue to wound others? That’s what I don’t understand about our world.

Be the kindness. Step outside of yourself and consider compassion and empathy.

Meanness is no fun for anyone.

I challenge you, as a parent to consider how you treat your kids. I’m not saying let them get away with everything and don’t discipline. Our kids have to learn boundaries and limits. There will be limits placed on them their entire adult life. We need to teach them about grace and forgiveness too though.

I had a dream the other night that one of my daughters called me a bully. It was just a dream but I woke up startled and have to admit that i took a few minutes to self-examine. Is there anywhere in my history of parenting that any of my kids have perceived me as a bully? I’m not perfect but my kids mean the world to me.

I want to be safety and love for my kids, but I also want to teach them love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, and self-control too. Yeah, I know that’s from the Bible too. Galatians 5:22 lists them out. They are called the fruit of the Spirit. What’s wrong with wanting to have those fruits for others to see in you?

There were a few lines in “This is Us” the other night, and if you don’t watch this show bear with me because you will catch on. By the way, I’m kind of paraphrasing here but…

Rebecca (Mom) says, “I know it’s your wedding day, and I want it to be the best for you, so I’m going to stay out of your way.”

Kate (Daughter) “Is that what you think? That you are in the way? No Momma, you aren’t in the way. You are the way.”

Parents, be the way! Give your kids something to look up to! Teach them the Golden Rule by words and actions.

Be the Way.

Stop being Mean.

Be kind.

Oh, and if you want to turn those thoughts in to action, be sure to take my Random Acts of Kindness Challenge.

Sincerely, Christi

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