When I was a kid, I dreaded going back to school. I didn't "fit in," I had very few friends and always seemed to stand out. It was my own doing really, as I never wanted to be a part of those groups. You know the ones, where all the girls and/or boys would get together and talk about other people as they walked by, just an entire culture of people being unkind and thinking it was cool to be this way. This was never me and I disliked the whole concept of school being a place that you had to be socially accepted or else your life was miserable. I just wanted to learn, I loved learning. But between classes, there was always a drama that seemed to happen so I quickly learned to stay to myself. Even at lunch time, I didn't go to the cafeteria, I went to the library. I'd read and read until the bell rang and it meant it was time to learn again.
Really, my entire schooling after elementary school was spent like this...class, alone, class, library, class, alone, class, home. I couldn't wait to be done with the whole system as I just knew the world would be so different. However, my thinking wasn't altogether correct. So much of our world is still like this. People being unkind and thinking it's cool to be this way! Unfortunately, our kids hear and see so much of this as they grow up. The great news is that there is a movement happening now, one that really wasn't there before, promoting kindness between adults, raising awareness of the damage hurtful words, angry voices, and unkind actions can cause. We see this movement happening in the APlus videos on Facebook and other videos similar to them.
When I wrote the Elle Grey Story, WORDS, I didn't have this movement in mind. I just simply asked myself what are the most important things I need my daughter to know in case I die before I get to teach them to her. The story, WORDS was the first story I wrote out of the thirty-nine that are now here. I needed her to understand the power of her words, her voice, and her actions. I'd seen it before too many times, where people had NO regard for any of these things and the damage it would cause. I felt as though if she could understand there was a difference between positivity and negativity and that we all have a choice as to which direction we take, she would know to choose her words wisely and she would be more likely to walk away from someone being unkind, making her far less likely to absorb that exterior negativity.
I think this is important for all of us as parents. None of us want the words people say to our children to hurt them. And while we cannot prevent pain, the hope is that if we can find a way to talk about it when it happens, hopefully, this will allow us to lessen the hurt.
I had to learn this on my own as a child-there was no real discussion about kindness and that everyone in the world had the option to exercise it. I just knew I didn't "fit in". I was kind and that made me an outcast, totally uncool and definitely not socially acceptable. I think it's time to change that culture throughout our schools, our communities, and our world. Kindness is amazing and the words we use are one of the largest contributors to kindness being shown. All of our children are born kind, we're just simply allowing that beautiful kindness to continue to flourish! While we may not be able to brighten every soul that walks this earth, if we can work to keep the hearts and minds of our little ones filled with kindness and shining bright, I think we can make a real difference in their world.