This morning I gave my son a new pair of glasses to wear. The last one was blue, but they had broken within a week. The replacement was purple.
He didn’t seem happy.
‘I didn’t know you don’t like purple.’ I told him.
Oh I like purple and pink but everyone is going to make fun of me. They are gonna sing, you are a girl. You are wearing purple. They are going to laugh and make jokes, he whined.
Grade 4. Age 9.
Being told that a particular colour is not ok for a boy.
Some shades were meant for a specific gender.
Not just colours, there are unwritten rules about everything. There is shame in who you are. In whom you talk to; The people you are friends with, their gender, their interests…
There is shame in talking about problems.
About tearing up when hurtful words are thrown at them.
We imagine teenage are tough years. We don’t realise how difficult life is for our children, NOW, no matter what age.
The disparities, the judgement, the ridicule, the pressure to fit in, it all starts early.
And the “I can deal with it” also starts so young.
We want our children to be ready for the world, to experience life, to explore the world.
But at their pace.
Instead they are being pushed into growing up so much faster than we can imagine, deal with issues we only saw much later in life.
My son was being shamed by a teacher in school. When I brought it up with the management, a teacher called him to find out more. Do you have any problems, she asked.
He responded with a clear No.
When I asked him why he wasn’t honest about it with them, he said, “It’s alright. I can handle it.”
It wasn’t his safe space.
Albert Einstein said, “Any fool can know. The point is to understand.”.
The cruel kids who shame and ridicule are also among us, aren’t they?
The same age, the same gender, the same class. And they learn from each other.
Isn’t it time for us to ask some hard questions? About our classrooms, our spaces, our homes. Isn’t it time to understand why?
Isn’t it time, we change the focus from the grade to the caliber?
From the outcome, to the person?
Isn’t it time to build a safe space where children learn kindness and concern before failure and ridicule?Isn’t it time we build a world where yours and mine can show their dull and shiny bits without fear or shame?