Bravery in the Family 16

There are three people I love dearly who have all shown unbelievable bravery in their lives. The first one is my dad who fought in WWII and Korea, but that is not what made him brave to me. The other two are my own children.

The first time I personally witnessed bravery was when I was a little girl. I awoke to a loud banging noise that would not stop, and then I heard my parents’ voices. My mom was begging my dad not to go outside. I got out of bed to see what was going on. Mom was crying and Dad was saying, “Lock the door behind me and call the police,” as he stepped out the door closing it firmly behind him.

Mom locked the door and opened her arms wide as I ran to her. I hugged my mom as she dialed the phone and I heard Dad yell through the door to Mom, “Tell them someone has been badly beaten and is bleeding.” Next I heard my dad telling someone on the other side of the door, “I can’t let you into my house because I have young children, but my wife is calling the police to get help, and I will stay here with you until they come. Whoever did this seems to have left. I saw a car speed away when I opened the door.”

Later I asked my dad why he risked his own life by opening the door. He replied, “Sue, if I were injured wouldn’t you want someone to help me? A long time ago a friend helped me and the only repayment he would accept was a promise that I would help someone else.”

Over the years I observed my dad helping others including repairing their cars when they came off our exit on the freeway only to learn that the nearest station was another eight miles away. He never accepted payment for doing this even when he had to drive somewhere to get auto parts. He always told them the same thing, “Just help someone else one day.” My dad did this his whole life and what better way to teach your children kindness than by being kind yourself. How I wish everyone in this world were like this!

I do not know if I have set as good of an example for my children, but I am trying and I think for the most part I am doing a good job of raising them. I will tell you a little about them and you can decide.

My daughter gave me permission to write Delightfully Different to help others as long I made it a work of fiction. I think this is very brave because I know how hard it was for her.

My son who observed everything that happened to his sister refused to be mean to another boy at school when a group of boys he has known since kindergarten started being mean to this boy. The boy told them my son is his friend and when the “bullies” asked my son if this is true, he replied, “Yes.” Some of these boys have picked on him as a result, but my son has kept his integrity which I think is way more important than remaining friends with mean kids.

Let me know what you think. Do you teach kindness to your children despite what other parents do?

Addendum: Much has changed since I originally posted this. My daughter left the school of her dreams due to their failures, but not before she made the brave decision to tell the high school dean her decision herself. She had the dean in tears, but this did not change the outcome.

That dean has since left the school and the former headmaster has too. We tried to get an apology for my daughter that we want placed in her permanent record to explain that the failures were not hers. The new headmaster refused.

In fact, after agreeing to meet with me, he tried to throw me out of his office ten minutes into our conversation because I showed him a happy smiling self-portrait my daughter drew when she first entered kindergarten before the bullying almost destroyed her. I still managed to converse with him for fifty minutes, but I did not see any indication that he was empathetic.

He did not even offer me a tissue when my eyes were clearly tearing and I had to dig into my purse to find one. He did promise to read everything I left with him including a school newspaper where the bullies called my daughter a reject. (No they did not mention her name, but the whole grade knew who was interviewed and she was the only one who had been excluded from that group. The paper went to every child from kindergarten through twelfth grade and it was on-line until I pointed it out to school the year we finally left them.

My daughter blogged her heart out and became #15 on Babble.com’s top autism blogs. She has since stopped blogging and worked hard to overcome the long-term effects of bullying.

Lessons Learned From Riding Horses 14

I am grateful for the lessons Dad taught me while riding horses together when I was young. One obvious lesson was to get back on the horse when you fall off or are thrown. However, my dad used our horses to teach so many other lessons.

When I was around eight my Shetland pony bolted with me on his back with loose reins and my feet out of the stirrups. My dad did not panic instead he got within hearing range to shout these instructions, “Hold on tight, remain calm, and focus on grabbing the reins to slow down.”

When life seems out of control I’ve always referred back to this. I also learned something else valuable that day although at the time I did not realize it. Every time my dad and his horse got close my pony ran faster.

Finally, I had to yell to my father, “Stay back.”

When my pony realized my dad’s horse wasn’t close by, he did slow down. This allowed me to grab the reins and the stirrups.

What did this teach me you wonder?

It taught me that sometimes as parents we have to step back and let our children handle things themselves. This does not mean not being there, my dad wasn’t too far away after all. It is more about being supportive without stepping in which can be very hard as the parent I tell you. I think it is especially difficult when your child has any difference that makes life harder for them. Yet, even they have to be able to work some problems out for themselves.

I learned the lesson.

Yet, it is still hard to remember especially when I see one of my children hurting for some reason. They both are now old enough to ask when they need help and since one day I hope they will be on their own, I have to let them grab the reins themselves while being close enough by to offer advice.

How I sometimes wish life were as simple as it was when they were toddlers! Back then the greatest pains could be kissed away. And before you ask, yes, both of them allowed me to kiss away their pain then. “Oh those were the days my friend!”

Teaching Kindness to Our Youth Without Pointing Fingers 1

Kids, who appear different, still have much to offer the world if schools teach tolerance of differences instead of turning the other way when children are mean. I started this project after it came to my attention that most of the girl’s book series at the time were actually about girls being mean to be popular. Since then Gossip Girl which is all about girls being mean has been turned into a TV show and now Pretty Little Liars has been too. The least harmful of the books was The Clique books and these were made into a movie.

Purchased Clipart Collection Version 1.2 (2.2) Copyright ©Macmanus. All rights reserved.

Purchased Clipart Collection Version 1.2 (2.2) Copyright ©Macmanus. All rights reserved.

This blog is not about pointing fingers or placing blame; its is about educating our youth.  Kindness to others is all too often one of the values that some of today’s young people seem to be missing for whatever reason.  Unfortunately, some kids don’t seem to understand that being mean has consequences so we all need to work together to make sure they understand.  Rather than punishing kids after someone gets hurt, let’s teach tolerance of differences so no one else gets harmed.

Boys are victims too and sometimes they are even victimized by the mean girls, but Delightfully Different is about a girl.  My next story will be about Mia’s brother and it will address some of the issues boys face.

This story isn’t about anger; it is about learning to forgive intolerance while teaching tolerance.  Healing of the injury is not complete without forgiveness.

God bless our children and our educators!