Finding Kind . . .
Big's school has instituted a new program to help prevent and to increase awareness on female bullying. I think it's amazing. But it took some convincing for me to make that call. When the paperwork first started coming home, I was MORE than hesitant. There was a launch night and a mandatory school assembly for all the girls. The boys attended a different gender-specific thing. The question that kept running through my head was: is that REALLY necessary? I was thinking about it along the same lines as a minority club. My take? Complain that you don't fit in . . . and then ostracize yourself by choice in a place where you only eat with people "just like you". Before the emails and comments start pouring in, know that I AM a minority. I was in a minority club. I believe in them, when they are done with the right intent. Anyway, my fear was like eating disorder support group, where you leave with awesome ideas on how to further fuc* up your metabolism, the girls would leave with new and better ways to torture each other.
The program is called Finding Kind. Watch the youtube trailer here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=woZTiMgWYDo
It's the story of Lauren and Molly. One day, they loaded a minivan with themselves & their mothers and they set out on a cross country road trip to shoot a documentary and build a school program about the power of kindness. It's amazing.
Last week, there was an open forum at school. Mothers and daughters attended and did a series of workshops and discussion topics. I have a bunch of thoughts on this, but I'll boil it down to this:
1. I love this program because I push and preach kindness in our home 24/7. A little kindness goes a long, long way. I'm in the group that raises their hand when the opening question is asked, "raise your hand if a fellow female's comments about you or to you have had a negative impact on you." I raise my hand. The thing is, it's not just when you are in 6th, 7th, 8th grade. I'm in the group that raises their hand because as an adult, I've been impacted by someone, something, some series of events.
2. We've had a bunch of recent events where kindness matters. Kindness just matters. Big's volleyball team plays in a league in a town about 30 minutes north of here. The man and woman that run the facility are absolute ogres. They march about with frowns upon their faces searching for small children that they can correct and make cry. It's stressful to go there. It's a terrible way to run a business. It's a terrible situation. I'm sure there is more to the story, but as a guest in their facility, it's a nerve-racking, God-awful experience. Every week. See, a little kindness would go a long, long way. Supposedly, they run an amazing volleyball program and turn out great players. But my daughter will NEVER know that potential, because I won't pay to have her surrounded by adult mentors that are mean and menacing and use fear to motivate.
3. Here's one of my biggest soapboxes. There's more to every story. We all hate to be judged, so I have to pass along this story to the best of my abilities. In the mother-daughter event last week, there was a brief open mic portion where mothers could share their stories. One lady stood and began to tell her story. She had been bullied terribly as a high school student. At a recent class reunion, she saw the girl (now grown woman) who had reigned such terror down on her. She boldly chose a seat next to the woman and they began a conversation. As the night progressed, she became much more bold in the conversation that was progressing and she asked, "why were you so mean to me in high school?" At the question, the woman broke down into tears and apologized profusely. Then she explained that during high school, her parents had just divorced, and in those years, she was living with her mother and new step-father. Her step father was sexually abusing her and she did not know how to cope with it. She admitted that she was foul in high school and that she treated people terribly. She apologized and asked for forgiveness and explained that the power she used over other girls in the school setting was the only power that she had. I have to think about that and let it sink in. The only power that she had was being mean. Wow. And I think it helps to know that sometimes, just sometimes, there is more of a reason that just "being mean". It's more that just a "mean girl" or doing awful things for the thrill of eliciting a bad reaction.
4. It's a lot of work. To parent and teach and learn and be vulnerable with your child. It's a kind of parenting that wasn't even around 20 (or maybe 10) years ago. But it's worth doing. Anything worth doing is worth doing right. Moms of daughters . . . go look at that trailer. Find a screening of Finding Kind. Go see it with your daughter. Start the discussion.
I'm starting my week with that thought. Be kind. It's the one thing we can all do. We might not all be pretty. Or smart. Or thin. Or enough. But we can all be kind.
Just be kind.