The Pursuit of Kindness

By | March 3, 2013

We bought the pink shirts a while ago. I still don’t fully understand how a T-shirt will prevent or stop bullying but I bought the T-shirts so that the boys won’t stand out as non-wearers.

It made me think of that Seinfeld episode when Kramer gets bullied for not wearing the pink ribbon that everyone was wearing during an AIDS march. “Who, who doesn’t wanna wear the ribbon?…” Remember that one? A well placed sarcasm if I’ve ever seen one.

That Thursday morning was a noisy one. Sasha had yet another night of interrupted sleep and he was in a bad mood when he woke up. By the time we flew out the door, moods were bruised and we did not remember to take the pink T-shirts.

So I drove back to get the T-shirts. Tony that he’ll pass since he might face being laughed at if mom shows up with the forgotten item. The irony of that happening on anti-bullying day was striking.

Sasha wore his, Tony didn’t. Later when I picked them up he told me how a kid walked by him and swore at him. Some nasty words; aside from my sadness that he knows them, it’s even sadder to know that he was addressed as such.

What about going to the principal with it? Nah, he says. The worst of what a kid would face should someone inform the teachers or principal would be “You are not allowed to…” or “Don’t do it again…” Right. Like that would curb it.

I could not necessarily call it bullying. It’s a mean put-down remark, it’s swearing, it’s bad. But then Tony told me the kid is known to swear at people. Other kids do it too sometimes. They’re being told not to do it, if someone hears them, that is.

But then again, Tony tells me of adult supervisors who appear bitter and punitive for reason that elude him. They yell and get mad at kids for not playing their notes well during music class, for not wiping their feet when they come back. Often threats are used too. We’re all human you could say. We all make mistakes.

Where do we draw the line then? How do teach the kids what’s acceptable and what’s not? Who is responsible for setting and example and how should they do it? Help children be kind not out of fear of punishment but because they are aware they could hurt someone’s feelings, that sounds good and noble but that could only happen if we do it first.

Pink T-shirts or not, children should know that being kind is not a one day event. They should be able to trust the adults in their lives to help them deal with swearing or aggression of any kind. Yet in some of my darkest moments I fear that that’s simply not the case.

Kids are living the same rushed lives we are, they are bitter and angry at times, they forget to be kind. Most, if not all, do not know any better until later on, if then. But what excuse do adults have? If they choose to work with children they should set an example. No excuse and no exception.

Kindness is not the same with weakness just like discipline is not the same with meanness. As a parent, I can say that when I behave in a mean way the last thing my boys learn or feel is to be kind to each other. Would they trust me to solve any aggression that might occur between them if I handle myself poorly? I hope not.

I think no matter how many T-shirts we pile on children, pink or not, they will only learn to be kind to others when they see it happening. The whole teaching by example thing. It applies, it really does.

Your thoughts on this? Thank you for sharing should you decide to do so.

 

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