I’ve come to realize that my kids live in a bubble of innocence reminiscent to Leave it to Beaver.
Now, trust me, I know I’m a far cry from June Cleaver but even with all my ghetto faults, Dan and I have somehow managed to shelter them from most of the atrocities this world has to offer. They are also sheltered from all kinds of social issues at their school. While it technically is a public school, having the title of ‘charter’ gives them more leeway when setting rules and discipline. Strict guidelines for language and behavior are readily enforced. For the most part, their charter school is filled pretty much with kids like them. Words like stupid, dumb or hate are not allowed, let alone profanity. Moral focus assemblies are part of the curriculum and a social contract signed by both parents and student are mandatory.
In hindsight, I can see that calling Emma and Gerrit sheltered might be a
gross understatment. Their home, their school, the company we keep. All of them a barrier against corruption. They couldn’t tell you an actual real swear word and the meanest thing they can think to say to each other in a fight is ‘i’m not talking to you anymore‘. In fact, I’m pretty sure their definition of a ‘bad guy’ is limited to bank robbers and people who get stopped for speeding. They are pretty clueless that some things are worse than that in this world.
I consider these things a virtue in Emma and Gerrit. The fact that they have stayed untainted for as long as they have. I love that about them and I wondered how long it would last. Like a gambler playing craps, I knew our hot streak would eventually end. Their version of reality becoming a disappearing world.
Kids will be mean. They will say things that hurt. Some might try to intimidate. There will be ones that might even hurt you. It’s sad that we have to tell our children these things but the truth is we do. They are going to meet kids that aren’t nice. There’ll be kids that are nasty. As a parent, how do prepare your kids to deal with the ugliness that their peers will dish out? How do you tell them about the cruelty that some kids are capable of before they’ve ever experienced it for themselves?
We knew it would come yet we waited as long as we could. Until it absolutely had to be addressed. Until it was today instead of someday. So how does that conversation go? What do you say to your daughter when she’s crying from the ‘girl with the red hair’ who said she was going to kill her and pulled her hair? How do make them feel safe while also equipping them to face future battles themselves? I’m not exactly sure.
In my world, I would teach my kids that if they’re attacked (verbally or physically) then they should rip the aggressor to shreds. I’m absolutely serious. It may sound harsh but I figure you teach the taunter the lesson once and for all… don’t mess with me. Mean kids have a way of targeting kids that aren’t able to defend themselves and I don’t want that to be my kids.
Dan and I don’t necessarily agree . He is, in this instance as in most, the kinder of us two and thinks we should teach them how to stand up for themselves without being mean. I’m skeptical but I’m willing to try.