Responsible parenting and leadership are a start. In between reaching for the sky (Toy Story rocks).

Screw the darkness. I prefer the lightness of Pop.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

The Why's of Differences and Tolerance

A little teasing I get, and I got my share growing up all the way into elder adulthood where I'm at today. I doled out a little myself. Sometimes the teasing was palatable and I'd laugh along, and sometimes it wasn't even close.

Through it all, I survived, and those I teased survived. Never in a million years did I bully verbally or physically to the point of wanting to hurt someone purposely and spitefully because of (fill in the blank). Pushed the teasing on occasion, yes. Bullying, no.

I'll admit that my instigated teasing over the years included pathetic "judgey" reasons I'd rather not relive, and the older you get, the most judgey it can become. However, when you're in the toddler years, differences aren't necessarily poked and prodded from spite, just poked and prodded because of the differences.

For example, Beatrice struggles with loud noises and still struggles with the inability to filter and process quickly. It can overwhelm her sometimes and that's when she plugs her ears and wants to bolt. Recently at school there have been a couple of times when loud noises have bothered Bea and she plugs her ears, and then a Pre-K classmate tries to pull her fingers out and tell her that nothing's wrong.

Because of the difference and the newness, they don't understand why she does it. The reaction is more about fear of the difference than the reason why. Kids want their normal and try to normalize their world accordingly. (Adults do this too of course, but we're just so much more messy and violent about it.)

Contrast that with the recent bullying incident of a 9-year-old North Carolina boy who was physically and verbally attacked by classmates after he brought a “My Little Pony” lunch bag to school. I'm still trying to digest this one, especially the way the school reacted to the little boy by banning him from bringing the lunch bag back to school. Although it does matter to me what they did or didn't do to those who were accused of bullying him, the school's response to the victim via what was published in the media was irresponsible and cowardly.

The boy's mother sums it up nicely for me (and thousands of others I'm sure):

“Saying a lunchbox is a trigger for bullying is like saying a short skirt is a trigger for rape. It’s flawed logic; it doesn’t make any sense.” 

Amen. And don't give me any bullshit about gender-appropriateness. I've had about enough of that. Good God it was just a "My Little Pony" lunch bag, something that represents friendship and sharing. 

Because we have two daughters though, the above flawed logic still isn't lost on me or the Mama. If this logic were eventually applied to Beatrice for example, with an extreme example being they'd remove her from the classroom and her classmates each time she plugged her ears under duress, you can be damn sure we're going to cause a reasonably responsible ruckus, but a ruckus nonetheless. Especially if she's bullied because of it. The same with Bryce and her glasses.

Again, I understand there's a difference between teasing and bullying, but when it's blatant bullying just "because," then it must be dealt with directly with all parties coming to a baseline understanding of the why's of differences and tolerance, not the "why nots?" of bullying and hate.

It's irresponsible and cowardice otherwise. No exceptions, Kids. None.

"It does not make any sense."

Rock on my little Beatrice. Rock on.

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