Thursday, September 19, 2013

It's Time To Take A Stand

Once upon a time I started a"family" blog to document our family's events. My posts were far and few between. Then I started this blog to document our adoption adventures. My intent was to keep them both separate but who am I kidding to think that I can keep track of two blogs? I can't even keep track of the times my kids get out of school on a daily basis. It's only taken me 38 years to figure out that it's Ok to say no and let things go. As much as I want to do it all I just can't. For now this blog will record everything. Adoption, family events, Down syndrome, simple thoughts or feelings I have, things that inspire me, orphan advocacy, all the things that make me go hmmmm!

With that being said I wanted to share with you something that my oldest son experienced yesterday. He just started Jr. High and the whole 7th grade was invited to watch a documentary called "Bully". They spent the whole day not only watching this film but discussing it's content. One of the first things he said to me when he got home was, "We watched the saddest movie at school today. Everyone was was crying, even the boys." As we had our own discussion I had asked him if it was something that was available for me to watch. I am always interested in the things that my children are learning and I try to stay informed with what is being taught. We searched and found it on Netflix and after I had put my little ones to bed I watched it. Cole had warned me that it was going to bring me to years and it did! It was a documentary about 5 children who were being bullied. In 90 minutes I  felt so much sorrow, anger, hurt and frustration to last me a lifetime. My heart ached for each child who was being bullied and I was in disbelief that the "bullies" could be so cruel. My heart also ached for the "bullies" because in most cases they just don't know any better or haven't been taught. I know that I lived in a different world even 20 something years ago and maybe I lived under a rock, but I do not remember any of my peers being so cruel and hateful. It was hard to believe that these "bullies" really do exist and it was a reminder that times, they are a changing and I am fearful for my children.

I can see why people choose to homeschool. If I could I would, but going back to me finally getting to know myself after 38 years, I just don't have what it takes to do it! I admire those who can but I just couldn't do it. So in the meantime I will continue to send my children to school in hopes that they will be safe; in hopes that they will treat others with respect and kindness. I hope that my children will not only stand up for themselves but will stand up for others. More than anything I hope that my children will remember that we are all children of God. We all came from the same place and are entitled to the same rights and privileges. I told Cole that it is sad for those who get picked on because all they want is the same experience as any other Jr. High/High School kid, and why shouldn't they? They just want to have fun and enjoy this time in their life too. Just because they look a little different or are small in stature, or have difficulty communicating or have learning disabilities doesn't make them any less of a person. UGH!

This documentary was so good yet so discouraging because it made me afraid for what my "typical" kids may face but especially what Liam and Sara may face. Liam is so tiny and probably always will be. He's got a few quirks and issues and has had many challenges in his short life. One is that he currently has a feeding tube. There is no medical explanation why he doesn't eat and his GI doctor said that some kids have their G-tubes until they are 17, even longer. Can you imagine still being fed my a feeding tube when you are a Sr. in high school? We still don't know of the things that may manifest as he gets older but it breaks my heart to think of the ridicule he may get because he is a little different. Then there is Sara, having Down syndrome makes her a target because she physically looks different. I hate to think that people would treat her differently, especially since I know how sweet and loving she is, but there were kids who looked "normal" in this video and they were being bullied. It makes me really sad that the "bullies" have to bully to feel validated and empowered. It makes me sad to think that they don't have a cheer squad at home cheering them on to make a positive difference. More than likely these kids are treating their peers just the same as they are being treated at home. Many of the world's problems would be solved if we all just loved! Bullying being one of them.

There are many things that stand out in my mind after watching this. The way things were handled by the administrative staff was appalling in some instances. The things that took place on the school buses were shocking. One scene that really touched me was when the mother of the boy who was called "fish face" said, "If these kids would just give my son a chance he would be the most loyal friend they could ever have." Before Cole left for school this morning I told him that I wanted him to find someone at lunch who doesn't have a friend sitting next to them and invite them to sit with him. His reply was, "Everyone has a friend at our school. There is never any one sitting alone." I do feel very blessed to live in an area where we have an awesome group of kids and a  "no tolerance" school system but that still doesn't make us exempt. In fact just this week a friend of mine posted on FB that her first grader is being pushed around by an older kid at the bus stop. He's also tried to push him off his bike when he's riding around. I think it's naive to say that everybody has a friend and bullying doesn't happen in our hood because it does. So I encouraged Cole to look a little harder because I am sure there is someone out there who needs a mate. Someone who just wants to belong, someone who needs protection, someone who wants to be loved. If you a have Netflix and have 90 minutes to spare I encourage you to watch "Bully".  But don't just watch it, discuss and it and share it with your family.

We have a responsibility as parents to teach our children to walk uprightly before God. Teachers, peers,  and text books can teach our children but the most important lessons are taught in the home. We can and must stand up to bullying because if we don't we let the bullies win. Stand for the Silent is a campaign this documentary supports and promotes. It's in honor of those who have taken their lives as a result of bullying. It's a coalition that empowers youth and communities to create cultures of kindness and stand up to bullying. There are many ways to get involved but the first place to start is in the home. "Everything starts with one and builds up and eventually we have an army. If we all do it together we will change the world." Unfortunately I no longer live under a rock. I had to relocate due to having children. I now live in a world that is cruel and kind, happy and sad, ignorant and wise, prejudice and tolerant. I just pray that I can teach kindness, happiness, wisdom, and tolerance to my children. I hope that they will have a voice and shout for good and that they will Stand for the Silent.

Here is the trailer for the movie. Click here to watch.

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