“Mom, some kids in a black car drove past us while we were walking home from the bus stop and called us faggots.”
“What? Who? Do you know them?”
“No. I don’t know who they are. Just randos.”
It’s been a rough year for our baby dragons. And it’s been a rough year for our kiddo that isn’t a dragon, but whose BFFs are.
And…she went through a horrible experience at the end of the last school year that involved a classmate.
Middle school wasn’t much fun for me either. I was awkward and shy. I had big hair, glasses, and braces and no sense of style. I never was a “popular” kid. But this? This breaks my mama heart.
“Sweetheart, I’m so sorry that happened to you. If it happens again, please tell me.”
Fast forward a few days and I’m in the kitchen rocking my 14 year old while she sobs about how hard it is to go to school every day. How hard it is to try not to feel hurt by all the cruelty being hurled at her, her siblings, and her friends.
How impossible it feels.
Our schools claim to be “anti-bullying” and I do believe they try.
Our schools also teach “suicide prevention.” But they don’t address the harm the kids are doing to each other.
What our schools can’t do? They can’t tell parents they need to do better.
I believe (and I know I “could” be wrong) that these children hurling insults and making fun of serious struggles learned those behaviors at home. Or from peers who learned those behaviors and opinions at home.
We need to do better. All of us.
Our children need a world that is accepting. Tolerant. Educated.
Instead, every day, I throw my children at a world that won’t accept them as they are. A community that can’t allow them to be authentic because it is somehow threatening.
My child, “Going to school every day is exhausting.”
“I know. It shouldn’t be that way. I’m so proud of you for being yourself despite those basics giving you shit.”
My children don’t “fit in.” They aren’t “basic.” They are truly and uniquely themselves and I am proud of them every day. They could “fit in.” But they don’t. They do their makeup and have friends who are LGBTQ and many of them ARE LGBTQ.
“Mama Bear, can I steal Ash away for a bit?”
“Yes, of course. Be safe.”
My sweet Ash’s BFF calls me Mama Bear and it is a title I wear proudly.
And this Mama Bear asks, pleads, begs…if you have teens (or really just have children), educate them. Teach them kindness. Acceptance.
Teach them that no matter how a person presents themselves, they are still human. Teach them that “jokes” that aren’t jokes…hurt. Teach them that making comments indirectly toward someone is still bullying. Teach them that calling people names is bullying. Teach them that they DON’T have to understand other people to treat them like people.
And people deserve to be treated with kindness.
And if you think, “oh, my kid would never do THAT.” Then that’s even more reason to talk to your children.
My unpopular opinion of the day…these children harassing my beautiful, talented, kind, smart humans learned their behavior at home.
Parents. We need to do better. We need to have the hard conversations. Our kids NEED to know that kindness is the ONLY choice.
Mama Bear says so.