Before I had my children I taught elementary school. One year I taught a multi-leveled grade one/two class. It was a wonderful year, with students ranging in age from six to eight. We talked a lot about being kind, helping each other and standing up for each other.
Another teacher introduced me to a children’s book called Don’t Laugh At Me, written by Allen Shamblin and Steve Seskin. It was also recorded by country singer Mark Wills. You can see the video here. Here are some of the lyrics:
I’m a little boy with glasses
The one they call the geek
A little girl who never smiles
‘Cause I’ve got braces on my teeth
And I know how it feels
To cry myself to sleep
I’m that kid on every playground
Who’s always chosen last
A single teenage mother
Tryin’ to overcome my past
You don’t have to be my friend
But is it too much to ask
Don’t laugh at me
Don’t call me names
Don’t get your pleasure from my pain
In God’s eyes we’re all the same
Someday we’ll all have perfect wings
Don’t laugh at me
When the kids and I read the book, listened to the song and eventually sang the song during a school assembly I was struck by how seriously the children took the anti-bullying message.
As adults, we think we’re pretty smart. We may be educated, well-travelled and have tons of life experience. But you know what? Those six and seven-year-old children had a far deeper grasp of basic kindness than many, many “grown-ups” do. As a kid, I just assumed that some day everyone would grow up. Unfortunately this doesn’t always happen.
I’ve been talking to a lot of friends lately about how mean and judgemental women are to each other and I’m sick of it. How can we teach our children to be accepting and kind but then turn around and rip another person to shreds?
I hope that every parent who sent their children off to school in pink shirts thought about why they were really doing it.
We need to stop and think about the way we treat others…not just the people we love but the people who are hard to love, the ones we are tempted to laugh at.
Our children already have this figured out.