Monday, April 29, 2013

Free Hand

Still working on the blog about Saturday ...  until then ...

Marissa and the girls came down for a visit on Sunday and, after the girls got their hair done, we went for lunch at Milestones. After placing our orders, Ruby opened the small set of crayons, took a piece of paper and went to work. She worked diligently. We all glanced over and saw that she had drawn a big heart. Cute. I didn't notice anything again until she had taken the yellow daffodil that she was wearing, the 'support cancer research' one, off her blouse and pushed the pin through the paper.

Then I think she startled all of us by asking, "How do you spell 'bullying'?"

Whaaa? Where did that come from?

So we helped her sound out the word and she matched the sound with the letter and then dutifully wrote it down. This was an odd coincidence because when we were heading over to the salon I had talked to Marissa about training in two different schools on Friday. I had mentioned that just walking into a school, no matter how different it might be from the one I attended, memories come flooding back. Not all of them good, of course. We agreed that schools always feel like schools.

There was no talk about bullying at all, just an oblique reference to what schools often are and to the memories that stay stuck forever in one's mind. And yet, only an hour later, a little kid, fresh and new to school, is sitting at a table, concentrating as hard as she can to make an anti-bullying poster.

We asked her a few questions about her school and if they were talking about bullying there. She answered distractedly, paying most attention to colouring green around the bottom. Finally I asked her what bullying meant. She said simply, "it's when people are rude." That may sound simple, but to Ruby, "rude" is a very big deal and it's behaviour she doesn't understand.

So, for today, I'm sharing a drawing done, out of the blue, by a little girl concerned about how people treat each other ....

I'd like to say, at the risk of seeming completely cutesy, I am really, really, pleased that Ruby had to ask how to spell "bullying" but she knew how to spell "love." I wish that were true for every child, of every age, in every place.


Deb said...

If only we could keep that sweetness of spirit in every child, and somehow infect every adult with it. I think we've made progress. Thirty years ago when I complained to his principle that my nine-year-old disabled son was being kicked and beaten at recess and lunch by a group of six 13 and 14 year olds the principle said, "Good, he needs to learn to stand up for himself."

Today that guy would lose his job for an attitude like that.

Keep loving these little ones Dave and Joe. You're good guys. You are building a strong foundation under them.

Anonymous said...

A similar story.... A few weeks ago I took my daughter to the park. Just the two of us. Her brother was not with us. He has DS, PDD and apraxia and Ava knows that we tell people Marco has 'special needs'. While at the park she, as she typically does, attached to a child there to play with, a little boy maybe about 4 or so....Ava is 6. He began quickly referring to things as retarded. After the second use, I politely told him he should think about different words to use as that is not a nice one. He replied that his big brother uses it all the time. His dad was a good distance away smoking a cigarette so I couldn't talk to him. I mentioned to the young boy that it is a word that is just not kind. I said to Ava that that was not a word we were to use and she replied "What word?" I said....retarded. And she said "Huh? What word?" I left it at that. Two children, just a couple of years apart with clearly different life experiences and exposures. Yep, hatred and bigotry is definitely learned and I think these two stories drive that home yet again!

Laurel said...

As they say... out of the mouths of babes.

I am hopeful that all this anti-bullying talk will really help change things. How amazing that would be. We don't all have to get along, but we don't need to be cruel to each other either.