I found myself channel surfing this morning before I put my son on the school bus, and I landed on the TLC channel (it’s one of my favorites).The show 19 kids and counting was on, but that wasn’t what caught my attention. In orange letters, and the bottom right part of my screen, it read “unite against bullying. Wear orange today in support of unity day.”
What a fantastic idea, but of course I got curious. I know that bullying happens to mainly kids, but how about as adults? How do we as parents handle bullying? As a fellow bully-e, it took a lot of time for a thicker skin to grow back. And growing up, I was nothing but awkward. Puberty was not kind to me; instead of curls, I had a HUGE afro that I had no idea how to tame. I was tall for my age, lanky, ridiculously flat-chested, and I had a giant gap between my two front teeth, big enough that my pinky finger could’ve fit in between. I wasn’t popular, good at sports, or one of the “smart kids.” I was somewhere in between all of those people, which made me an easy target at school.
I eventually grew out of the awkwardness. I learned about hair gel and moose, got braces (thanks mom and dad), and now have a big enough chest to donate to the less fortunate. Just kidding… but I learned to navigate and maneuver my way through life. And if you had once told my thirteen year old self that I would eventually grow out of the awkwardness, ha, well I probably wouldn’t have believed you. So, take a good hard look. This was me at thirteen.
Willy has an incredibly strong will, and even if I prepare him with all of the tools possible to navigate his way through this world, he would still want to do things his own way. I admire that about him. I always have, but sometimes adults know best. We’ve been there. We’ve done that. So when I recently asked his teachers if he was being kind to his classmates, she just smiled at me and said, that “Willy marches to the beat of his own drum. He likes to try things his own way before he tries things our way, and as long as he’s prepared for things to not always work out, then we’re not too worried.”
I liked her response, because “if you try and don’t succeed, try, try again.” And that’s exactly the way I feel when it comes to Willys peers and being kind. You don’t have to be the best at sports or the most popular. You don’t have to be the prettiest or the smartest. As long as you have a kind heart and patience for those who need a little patience, you’ll do just fine. It just takes a little time, and we all blossom in the end.
We really do.