Monday, November 5, 2012

Let's all Play Nice.

I know a lot of people in this month of November are doing the “gratitude project” where every day you say something you are grateful for in your life.   I love this.   I love seeing what everyone says.   However, I have decided on my own project for November, and it all stems from some thoughts that I have been thinking for a while.  Here’s the back story…

My daughter is 10.    She is in 5th grade.   And she came home last week in tears, because the boys on the bus told her she was fat.   My son is 8.  He’s in 3rd grade, and he came home a few weeks ago asking if his calf had baby fat on it, because someone in his class told him that he was carrying baby fat.  Having been a round child myself, I know the pain that comes with words like this.   I know I have written before about the words I remember as child from kids I went to school with.   I am 42 years old, and I still remember.   I can’t help but have my heart broken a little when I think of these things being said to my own children.

And here’s the kicker.   My kids are in GREAT SHAPE!   Neither one of them are overweight.   They aren’t built stick thin….but none of their family members are, so why WOULD they be?   My daughter can swim 1600 yards in one swim practice, and then come home and play outside for hours.   My son can go roller skating for 3 hours, and come home to jump on the neighbor’s trampoline.   They don’t eat poorly, they are active, great kids.   And what I am most proud of with them, is that they are compassionate, kind children who genuinely care about other people. 

I understand that this is a competitive world.   I understand that we all want what is best for our kids.   We want them to be tough, successful, to win.   I get it.   I do.   But what about teaching them that kindness can be more powerful than hatred?  Compassion is something we all talk about, but is it something we truly practice?   I see so much less of it with kids today, and it breaks my heart.  What happened to “if you don’t have anything nice to say….”   You know the rest.  When did we make it okay to use words as weapons, and make it okay if "it is said as a joke."   Those jokes aren't funny.

So…I am trying something this month.   I am grateful for much in my life.   That’s a given.   I don’t need to write that down.   Instead what I am doing is trying each day to share a quote about kindness and compassion with my kids.  I want to show them that there is great power in being kind to others.   And although there will continue to be those in this world that use words to hurt, they can rise above that by being caring and compassionate.   I believe to a certain extent that we allow our kids to speak to each other this way, by passing it off as “kids being kids.”   Well, in our home, we are going to try to change that.   

I would love for them to be greatly successful and I believe they will be, because they are smart kids.   It would be nice for them to always succeed, but I would also like people to look at them and say, hey, there are caring and good natured.   So we are working on compassion and kindness at our house.  

I want them to understand that there will always be people you don’t mesh with.   There will always be people who are mean.   But if you keep kindness in your heart, there will be MORE people who want to be around you than to break you down.  I want them to understand that “fat” isn’t anything other than an insult.   It's a word.  It isn’t who you are.   And people who use that word as an insult aren’t worth the time of day to them.   I guarantee that if they just look the other way, they will see a face of someone who cares and supports them. 

I can’t protect them from ugly words, but I can teach them the core values that will make others want to stand with them, rather than against them.    

So….I challenge you to do the same.   Whenever it works for you, take five minutes a day to focus on kindness and compassion instead of competitiveness and winning.   I have a theory that it might make a difference in how you view the world and perhaps how our children see it too.